Kelly O'Neill '17 CON

Kelly O'Neill '17 CON

Externships are a valuable part of nursing education, preparing students with real-world experience in hospitals and clinics, patient interactions and career connections. Annual support from alumni, parents and friends helps the College of Nursing provide a strong foundation in academics, practical skills and service to others so students stand out when applying for these competitive positions. Kelly O'Neill '17 CON, recently served as an extern at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic and reflected on her experience.

This summer I have been very fortunate enough to take part in the 10-week Mayo Clinic Summer III nurse extern program at the main campus in Rochester, Minn. I applied to the Mayo Clinic believing it to be a reach, never expecting to be one of the 53 chosen out of 1,000 applicants.

I was placed on the Colorectal and General Surgery floor. This was especially exciting for me as I am interested in the surgical patient population, and the Mayo Clinic is one of the top hospitals in the nation for colorectal surgery. My experience also included three additional days of observation in the Neonatal Intensive care Unit, Mother Baby and Pediatric Surgical Services. I also participated in an educational day, which included a tour of the emergency department and the Mayo One helicopter.

The Mayo Clinic externship is unique because, as a Summer III, you are not a patient care technician; rather, you work side by side with a registered nurse whom you’re assigned to for the summer. I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse patient population, who have traveled to Mayo Clinic from all around the world, as well as patients ranging from young adults to geriatrics.

I am honored to have learned from an organization that truly puts the patient first and hope to bring these lessons and skills back to Villanova and incorporate them into clinical. Above of all, I have gained more empathy for patients than I ever knew was possible.

At the Mayo Clinic and my floor especially, you see the worst of the worst. Patients are at their most vulnerable as they are recovering from surgery some having longer recovery roads than others. Despite the unfortunate hand most patients have been dealt, they have still maintained such a positive outlook on life and are extremely grateful to the nurses for their care. One patient in particular, who was blind since birth and diagnosed with cancer, taught me an invaluable lesson this summer: There is no use in dwelling on what you don’t have in life, as there are so many things in your life to be thankful for—life itself.

I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity and appreciate how the Villanova College of Nursing has prepared me for this milestone in my life.

Original story published by the College of Nursing