Franciscan Health Nurse Internship partners with local schools

The pandemic has placed in stark relief the importance of nurses in the nation’s healthcare system. It has also placed unprecedented stresses on the profession, leading to shortages of nursing professionals.

Jennifer Olson, director of clinical education at Franciscan Health, says another strain on the profession is the high turnover of new graduates. A New York University study estimates that one in three leave their first job within two years. “It’s one of the most devastating statistics,” she said.

One remedy is the Franciscan Health Nurse Internship, a unique academic partnership between Franciscan Health and school partners to support nursing students by giving them valuable clinical experience as they complete their degree. Interns are paid to work eight to 12 hours per month and receive tuition assistance for the last three semesters of their nursing program.

Partner schools are Ivy Tech Community College, Prairie State College, University of Indianapolis and University of Saint Francis.

“Ivy Tech is pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to our nursing students. The expense of attending college is one of the largest barriers that students face. With the majority of the last three semesters of nursing programming provided through the internship, participants can focus on learning and honing their clinical decision-making abilities,” said Jewel Diller, assistant vice president, nursing for Ivy Tech Community College. “This is a win-win for Ivy Tech Community College nursing students, for Franciscan Health and for our local Indiana communities.”

Olson added, “We’re investing tuition and time into the students, so they learn more about what it means to become a Franciscan nurse and stay with us for at least two years after graduating. We also support their transition to practice the first year with the Franciscan Nurse Residency program, where they meet with residency coordinators each month to become more fully socialized and feel more empowered.”

Chris Royer, RN (left), works with Ivy Tech Community College nursing student and intern Elizabeth Gilmer at the Ortho-Neuro unit of Franciscan Health Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Olson says that the shock of acute care can be overwhelming, but the Franciscan Health Nurse Internship offers a safe and nurturing environment for nursing students to gain confidence in caring for patients.

“It gives the student a better grounding of what the profession is,” Olson said. “Our hope is that this opportunity gives students who may not have considered nursing a viable option, the incentive needed to choose this path.”

Despite the challenges, Olson emphasizes that a nursing degree offers good wages and a lot of flexibility. Once trained, nurses can go on to a variety of positions including leadership, academia, sales and the legal profession among others.

The Franciscan Health Nurse Internship program takes place at Franciscan Health’s Indiana hospitals in Crown Point, Hammond, Dyer, Munster, Indianapolis, Mooresville and Lafayette and Franciscan Health Olympia Fields in Illinois.  Spots will also open at the Michigan City campus by the end of 2022.

To take part in the internship, students must have completed at least one semester of clinicals at an accredited ASN (associate in nursing) program and at least two semesters at a BSN (nursing bachelor’s degree) program; be currently enrolled in good standing; and be American Heart Association BLS (basic life support) certified.

For more information and to apply online for a Franciscan Health Nurse Internship, go to