Internships will play integral role in nursing shortage

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In a widely quoted statistic by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 700,000 Registered Nurse jobs are expected to be added by 2020, making the occupation one of the fastest growing in the country. This, of course, is great news for the nursing industry, but doesn’t help explain why it remains difficult for many new nurses to find the jobs they desire.

Back in 2003, Ardis Bush, RN was named one of the first grand prize winners of the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Awards, and she recently spoke of how her profession has changed since she received the award.

What concerns Ardis about new nurses is that many are postponing their nursing careers after graduation, or being forced to accept jobs outside of their preferred fields. Internships are a great bridge between nursing school and the workplace, but Ardis points out the lack of resources currently available for many of these programs.

“Internships are an excellent opportunity to address the ‘reality shock’ and enhance the critical thinking necessary for transitioning safely from the classroom to the bedside. But the challenge is: How do we attract the resources in all hospitals to accommodate more new graduates?” Bush said. “Is the answer to ask the federal government to provide an incentive for health care organizations that address the nursing shortage by promoting internships and incorporating them into the employment practices for their entry level nurses? The present competition for internships is great, but the need to increase the number of nurses in the workforce to address the future shortage is even greater.”

What’s your take? Do you feel internships are a key to solving the nursing shortage problem? How do we expand internship programs? Let us know in the comments below.

Ardis J. Bush, MSN, MS, RN, CMSRN, NE-BC, works at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Do you know a nurse who is a thought leader? Tell us about them at Also, be sure to nominate a nurse who has inspired you for a Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award by clicking here. Nominations for the 2012 season are accepted through June 30, 2012.

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2 Responses to Internships will play integral role in nursing shortage

  1. Smithteamracing RN

    Internship or slave labor. Hospitals have been doing this dance forever. Budget cuts ens new grad programs & new hire training…..then big surprise the nursing shortage becomes critical & they resume new grad programs. New grad programs are wonderful. The new nurse gets the support he/she needs and the hospital gains a well trained nurse.

  2. Nurse Rene RN

    One of the best programs for new grads is a Nurse Internship Program. This is for ‘new hires’ who have graduated and passed the NCLEX but lack sufficient experience to do the job WELL.
    In the Internship program a new RN ‘rotates’ through the various units and services of what is often a Teaching Hospital which also has new docs and residents doing essentially the same type of rotation training.
    I have seen this used in one large urban teaching hospital with great success. Not only does the new RN get a chance to expand his/her knowledge base, he/she also learns how to build interdisciplinary relationships, deal with MDs and all sorts of ‘personalities’ and gain the confidence to ‘fly solo’ when the internship is completed.
    Those who have opted for the Internship program have had nothing but positive comments at its completion. It is a highly effective and ‘smart way’ for a hospital to build its own base of capable and competent nurses.