Career Development

What Does a Nurse Extern Do?

Find out what a nurse extern does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a nurse extern.

Nurse externs are registered nurses who work with a preceptor (a nurse who has more experience) to gain hands-on clinical experience. They may also assist in the planning and implementation of patient care, but they do not have the same level of responsibility as full-time nurses.

Nurse externs typically spend their time observing and assisting other nurses on the nursing team. They may also be responsible for completing clerical tasks such as filing paperwork or answering phones.

Nurse Extern Job Duties

Nurse externs have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Performing patient intake interviews to gather information about the patient’s medical history, current health status, and any special circumstances that may affect care
  • Performing basic nursing tasks such as changing sheets, assisting patients with bathing or showering, or administering medications as directed by a physician or nurse manager
  • Observing patients’ behavior and reporting any unusual or concerning behavior to the appropriate staff member
  • Taking vital signs such as blood pressure or temperature using medical equipment such as stethoscopes and thermometers
  • Cleaning and sterilizing equipment and preparing it for use by the next shift or patient
  • Performing basic nursing tasks such as changing bandages, administering injections, drawing blood, and administering medications
  • Preparing patients for examinations and surgery by washing them with antiseptic solutions and applying clean linens
  • Collecting samples for lab tests such as blood or urine analysis
  • Performing clerical duties such as answering phones, maintaining medical records, filing paperwork, and updating databases

Nurse Extern Salary & Outlook

Nurse externs are typically paid an hourly wage, and their salary can vary depending on a number of factors.

  • Median Annual Salary: $63,500 ($30.53/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $97,000 ($46.63/hour)

The employment of nurse externs is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

As demand for healthcare services increases, hospitals and other healthcare providers will need more nurses to provide care to patients. In addition, an aging population is expected to increase demand for nursing services.

Related: Nurse Extern Interview Questions and Answers

Nurse Extern Job Requirements

Nurse externs are typically required to have the following:

Education: Most employers require nurse externs to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Some employers may accept an associate’s degree in nursing or a related field.

Many employers prefer candidates who have completed a nursing program that included clinical experience. These programs typically take four years to complete and include classroom and clinical instruction.

Training & Experience: Most of a nurse extern’s training will take place during their clinical hours. During these hours, they will learn how to perform various tasks and procedures under the supervision of a registered nurse. They will also learn how to properly care for patients and how to properly document their care.

After graduation, a nurse extern will receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training will help them learn how to perform their duties and responsibilities in the workplace.

Certifications & Licenses: Nurse externs are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to get a license to practice. The exam is a six-part test that assesses a nurse’s knowledge, skills and abilities.

Many employers prefer candidates who have passed the NCLEX-PN.

Nurse Extern Skills

Nurses who are interested in becoming externs need the following skills:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to another person. As a nurse extern, you may be communicating with patients, doctors, other nurses and patients’ families. Effective communication is an important skill for a nurse extern to have because it can help you to understand and explain medical information to patients and their families. It can also help you to understand and follow the instructions of your supervising nurse.

Time management: Time management is a skill that allows you to prioritize your tasks and complete them in a timely manner. As an extern, you may have a variety of responsibilities, including taking patient vitals, recording patient information and preparing patients for procedures. It’s important to manage your time well so you can complete all of your tasks and ensure your patients are comfortable and safe.

Organization: Nurses often have many tasks to complete in a short period of time. Having strong organizational skills can help you manage your time and responsibilities. You can use your organizational skills to keep track of your patients’ medical records, medications and treatment plans. You can also use them to keep track of your own tasks, such as updating your supervisor on your progress.

Adaptability: A nurse extern may work in a variety of settings, with a variety of patients and with a variety of other medical professionals. Being adaptable means being able to adjust to new situations and environments. Nurse externs may also rotate through different shifts, so being adaptable means being able to work different hours and days.

Compassion: Nurses often work with patients who are experiencing a health crisis or are in pain. Having compassion for your patients can help you provide them with the care they need. You can also use compassion to help you build relationships with your patients and their families.

Nurse Extern Work Environment

Nurse externs work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. They typically work the same hours as the nurses they are assisting, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may be required to work long hours, as well as overtime, to meet the demands of their patients. Nurse externs may work in a variety of settings, such as medical-surgical units, intensive care units, labor and delivery units, and outpatient clinics. They may also be required to travel to different healthcare facilities to provide care for patients.

Nurse Extern Trends

Here are three trends influencing how nurse externs work. Nurse externs will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Flexibility

The nursing profession is becoming increasingly more competitive, as more and more people are looking to enter the field. In order to stand out from the crowd, nurse externs need to be able to show that they can work well in a team environment and are willing to take on a variety of tasks.

In addition, nurse externs who are able to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability will be more successful in finding jobs after graduation. Employers are looking for candidates who can quickly learn new skills and are able to work in a variety of settings.

More Collaboration Between Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals

Nurses are increasingly being asked to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in order to provide better care for patients. This trend is likely to continue as nurses become more involved in patient care management and decision-making.

As a nurse extern, you can capitalize on this trend by developing strong relationships with other members of the healthcare team. This will allow you to share information and ideas, which can help everyone involved provide better care for patients.

Greater Focus on Patient Safety

As hospitals and clinics focus on patient safety, they are placing greater emphasis on the role of the nurse extern. Nurse externs are essential to ensuring that patients are safe and comfortable while in the care of the hospital or clinic.

By working closely with nurses and other staff members, nurse externs can help to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. They can also play an important role in educating patients about how to stay safe during their stay.

How to Become a Nurse Extern

A nurse extern career is a great way to get started in nursing. It’s a chance to see different areas of nursing and learn from experienced nurses. You can also use this time to decide if nursing is the right career for you.

As a nurse extern, you will have many opportunities to learn and grow. You may be asked to help with patient care, participate in educational activities, or assist with administrative tasks. You may even be given the opportunity to lead some of these activities.

It’s important to take advantage of all that an externship has to offer. Be sure to ask questions and listen carefully when veterans share their experiences. Take notes on what works well and what doesn’t. This information will be helpful as you progress in your nursing career.

Advancement Prospects

Nurse externs may be promoted to registered nurse (RN) positions. Some nurse externs may choose to continue their education and become advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, or certified nurse-midwives.

Nurse Extern Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide high-quality patient care and want to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care. We are looking for a nurse extern to join our team and help provide care for our patients. The ideal candidate will be a student nurse who is currently enrolled in an accredited nursing program. He or she will have strong clinical skills and be able to work well under pressure. The nurse extern will be responsible for providing direct patient care, as well as assisting the registered nurses with tasks such as taking vital signs and documenting patient care.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as a patient advocate, providing culturally competent care that is respectful of patients’ values, beliefs, and preferences
  • Collaborate with the interdisciplinary team to develop and implement individualized plans of care that are evidence-based and meet patients’ needs
  • Educate patients and families about their health condition, treatment options, and self-care management
  • Assist with direct patient care activities, including but not limited to taking vital signs, collecting specimens, and performing point-of-care testing
  • Participate in quality improvement initiatives to help the organization continuously improve the care it provides
  • Serve as a resource for patients and families, providing emotional support and referrals to community resources as needed
  • Maintain accurate and up-to-date documentation in the electronic health record
  • Adhere to infection control policies and procedures to protect patients, staff, and visitors from exposure to communicable diseases
  • Comply with all organizational policies and procedures, as well as local, state, and federal regulations
  • Attend educational opportunities to maintain and enhance professional competence
  • Model professional behavior at all times, exhibiting honesty, integrity, compassion, and respect
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • CPR certification
  • Basic computer skills
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and customer service skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time and lift up to 50 pounds

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher in nursing
  • RN license
  • BLS certification
  • ACLS certification
  • PALS certification


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