Posted: August 11, 2021

In 2021, the Ontario Ministry of Health announced an expansion and enhancement of its clinical extern program, and GRH was selected to participate in the regional network of hospitals offering this innovative learning opportunity!

Clinical externs at GRH are nursing, paramedic or medical students with at least one year of schooling, and/or trained international nurses who are updating their skills for a Canadian setting. They work as unregulated healthcare providers while receiving mentorship from the Clinical Extern Coordinators, who are experienced Registered Nurses at GRH. This unique combination allows the Clinical Externs to enhance their skills and provide some support for patients in certain inpatient units.

“What I like most about being an extern is that it allows me to build my confidence and skills within a safe learning environment,” says Kiana Ryzebol, a 4th year nursing student in the clinical extern program at Freeport Campus. “It's really helpful to have the support of the staff on the units I am on, and… shadow nursing care [such as] wound dressing changes or IV medications.”

GRH Clinical Externs at KW Campus
GRH Clinical Externs at KW Campus

The Clinical Extern Coordinators work closely with the externs to align with their current learning and competency levels, and cater to their learning goals. Tamara Olmedo-Johnson, another clinical extern, shares that compared to a standard nursing education placement, “the mentors are able to facilitate our learning at a much higher level [by providing] shadowing opportunities and skill practicing for us.” The program collaborates with Managers and Education Practice Leads to help identify extern placements based on what the extern wants to learn, their current ability levels, and what units would benefit from support.

“Our goal is to promote education and experience, so [the externs] will feel competent to excel in delivering world-class care”, shares Leslie Davis, one of the four Clinical Extern Coordinators. “[Hopefully] they will want to continue working for GRH after their externship!” she adds.

Donna Teodoro, an internationally-educated nurse from the Philippines, says that her time as a Clinical Extern has “opened my perception about Canadian healthcare” and is supporting her transition to nursing in Canada. The externs learn unique skills that would enable them to start careers at GRH as well - in addition to establishing therapeutic relationships with patients and rapport with the GRH team, clinical externs receive education in GRH’s policies, procedures, and best practice guidelines.

Talia MacLean-Bartley, a third year nursing student and clinical extern, sums the program up as an opportunity to develop skills and get a realistic view to what nursing life will be like after graduation. “Placement for school was a great opportunity but it went by very quickly... This position has [built] on what I know and helped me develop better understanding. The coordinators… are very knowledgeable, friendly and approachable, so I feel comfortable going to them with my questions. The coordinators have certainly made this experience valuable and have really helped me create a more solid foundation for my clinical knowledge.”

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