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My career: growing as a professional at Cleveland Clinic

--Kirsten Stepanek, Hudson, Ohio

Kirsten Stepanek in white scrubs

For senior Kirsten Stepanek, Cleveland Clinic was an easy choice for a summer externship experience. Hailing from Hudson, Ohio, she knew it held the number two ranking as one of the nation’s best hospitals in US News & World Report.  The fact that Cleveland Clinic seeks Villanova nursing students for positions made the honor of being selected that much sweeter. In summer 2017, Kirsten chose to participate in the Cleveland Clinic Nurse Externship Program.  

As an extern, Kirsten worked 40 hours a week for 10 weeks on a Medical-Surgical Neuroscience floor. Her manager scheduled her for four 8-hour shifts on the floor with different nurses every day. Some other students worked two 12-hour shifts and one 8-hour shift on their floor, working with the same nurse throughout the 10 weeks.

Eight hours was reserved each week for learning off the floor- either in class or observation. Kirsten attended classes which she found valuable as she learned about topics such as cardiac and hemodynamic monitoring, applying and understanding EKGs, using a defibrillator, wound dressings, tracheostomy care, ventilator support, inserting PIVs and venipuncture.  “This 8-hour class was included in our 40-hour week, so I was not only learning on the floor, but I was also learning in a classroom, which then allowed me to apply this information to the clinical setting,” notes Kirsten.

Every other week, instead of the 8-hour class, Kirsten says, “We were given the opportunity to observe different floors based off our own interests. For example, I was able to observe a nurse on an ICU floor, on the labor and delivery floor, and in the ED.”

As she enhanced her knowledge and skills as an extern, Kirsten also took advantage of another career building opportunity. Kirsten shares, “Another amazing benefit of this program is Cleveland Clinic offered a temporary patient care nurse assistant (PCNA) position to all of the students who participated in their program. Therefore, I am, in fact, still working at Cleveland Clinic during my breaks on the same floor I worked on over the summer, and I do hope to continue to work at Cleveland Clinic after I graduate.”