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Hands-on Experience for the Next Generation of Nurses

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Current nurse interns Nicole and Mackenzie working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

In April 1889, St. Luke’s opened its School of Nursing. At that time, there were less than 40 schools like it in the nation, and only one other in Minnesota. For the next century, nursing students lived, trained and worked on the St. Luke’s campus.

St. Luke’s School of Nursing closed in the early 1980s, when the trend was to move nurse training programs into collegiate settings. While there are a lot of benefits to this model, it has left nurses with less clinical and hospital-based experience. It has alo prevented hospitals from playing an integral role in nurturing their future workforce. That is what motivated St. Luke’s to launch a new Student Nurse Intern Program.

Developed in partnership with area nursing programs at Lake Superior College and The College of St. Scholastica, this program offers hospital experience to current nursing students.

Now in its first semester, the program involves hiring qualified nursing students as interns. They are then assigned to work alongside a St. Luke’s nurse for an 8-hour shift each week. This complements the students’ regular clinical training.

Students build confidence, receiving direct mentorship from Registered Nurses.

They receive even more hands-on experience with more procedures and situations in the hospital setting. Students build confidence, receiving direct mentorship from Registered Nurses who precept and mentor them. They also get additional financial support with an hourly wage and monthly stipend.

As part of the program, students also commit to working for St. Luke’s for two years after graduation. The interns will start their careers already having a strong knowledge of the St. Luke’s culture, policies, and procedures. In this way, St. Luke’s is striving to make the transition from student to nurse as seamless as possible.

Program benefits include:

  • Clinical skill experience
  • Preparation for the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses)
  • Professional connections
  • Smoother transition after graduation

“The program truly helps prepare students to work with patients,” said Theresa Hannu, St. Luke’s Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer. “They are in our environment, working with real people, immersed in the St. Luke’s culture. When they graduate, they will already know their peers and have trusted contacts. They will know our electronic medical record and how and where to document. It will decrease their orientation time and better prepare them for the NCLEX. They will have a leg up as new grads.”

"They will have a leg up as new grads."

The program started this fall and currently includes 12 nursing students. As the program grows, more area schools and students will participate.

For more information about the Student Nurse Intern Program, contact Mollie Lucia at Mollie.Lucia@slhduluth.com.

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