Summer Spent Wisely

BSN students share their practical work experience.

For 10 weeks this summer, fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student Clara Ahn spent her days at Cleveland Clinic’s Main Campus as a nurse associate extern, scrubbing into the vascular operating room and gaining experience circulating through emergency department, intensive care unit and transplant units.

The experience at Cleveland Clinic was one of many valuable, real-world educational opportunities that Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing students completed over summer break. CWRU has “one of the few nursing programs that offers an operating room clinical rotation,” she said. Because of this, Ahn felt prepared for her externship with “a foundation of knowledge.”

Across the country in San Francisco, third-year BSN student Rachel Shen interned with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as a commissioned officer of the United States Public Health Service.

Shen’s internship set her to work at the Region 9 Office of Program Operations and Local Engagement, where she assisted in the reconsideration process for CMS innovation models to improve payment and service delivery.

She said the highlight of her experience was meeting nurse officers, who opened her eyes to the various paths she could take in her own career.

“A nurse practitioner in the Bureau of Prisons who advocated for her patients, a nurse who worked in Indian Health Services who described the difficulty of working in such an under-resourced area—yet the joy of being able to change things for the better,” she recalled. “And a nurse who worked in the Yosemite National Park medical clinic who woke up to breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley every morning.”

With these new ideas of what nurses can do “beyond the bedside,” Shen is excited for what’s ahead. 

Both Ahn and Shen came away from their summer work experiences with more practical knowledge, new contacts in their professional networks and inspiration for their futures. 

Their advice to other students planning their own internships and externships?

“Be open to anything, and don’t be scared of things you don’t know!” said Shen.

“Take notes, be actively engaged, ask questions,” said Ahn. “Have a positive attitude and learn to say ‘yes’ to the opportunities given to you.”

This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2022 issue of Forefront Magazine.