Health training programs prepare you for the skills you will need to pursue your chosen career in healthcare. Most quality Healthcare training programs are made up of classroom theory, hands-on labs, clinical rotations with preceptors, along with externship experiences.  An externship is a great way to gain on-the-job experience in a real-world setting. An externship can help set the groundwork for your future career.

What is an Externship?

Similar to an apprenticeship, an externship is a short-term, typically unpaid, educational experience that takes place on-site at a work facility.  An extern works alongside existing employees in a form of “shadowing experience”. This birds-eye view under the watchful eye of seasoned staff or a faculty member allows you to build skills and demonstrate knowledge in a real-world setting.

Benefits of an Externship

There are numerous benefits to an externship.  Here are just a few:

  1. Invaluable Hands-on, Real World Work Experience: There is no doubt that you have probably spent an excessive amount of time learning about your career choice in the classroom as well as practicing it in a laboratory setting, but the real world tends to be different. With an externship, you will be allowed to work with patients in a real clinical setting. You will also learn about what it feels like to work with a supervisor as you share your training with your fellow colleagues and patients.
  2. Experience the Workplace: Healthcare careers take place in a variety of different healthcare facilities.  You might find yourself working in a small physician’s’ office, specialty office, as part of a large hospital, or in a bustling outpatient center. Your externship will place you in the heart of such settings so you get a taste for the different aspects of your chosen healthcare career. This is highly beneficial because it gives you an idea of where you want to work. You will be able to determine if you fit best in a large hospital setting or as part of a smaller, office group.
  3. Mental Preparation: You can have all of the technical skills mastered for your chosen career but ultimately, one of the most important aspects of an externship is providing you with the mental preparation needed to truly work in your chosen career field. You will develop not only communication skills and hands-on experience but also the confidence needed to perform the job successfully. Mental confidence also becomes a reflection that is an important aspect of being able to walk into a job interview and land the position. Your behavior will help you advance in the workplace. At all times, you should display professional behavior towards your coworkers and patients and treat them with respect. As a part of a team, you will be expected to show up on time, maintain a professional appearance, and take your work seriously.  By completing an externship in a professional environment, you will know what professional behaviors are required by employers in your future career.
  4. Competence in Skills : During your externship, it is time to put those skills to a real-life test. Your technical skills are key to showing that you can perform in the real world. You will more than likely know exactly what is expected of you at your new job and can apply your skills on externship under different scenarios than those in your classroom. You will also be closely supervised and guided by experienced professionals in your healthcare facility.
  5. Gain of knowledge from experts in the field : Externships in healthcare careers are a great way to garner important advice from supervisors and instructors. You will benefit in a new way of learning from experienced individuals who will be working beside you. Remember, your externship is the time to learn about how a functioning, real-life healthcare facility works. You will also need to master what protocols you must follow.  Communication is important with your coworkers and supervisors. You will want to ask them questions about how they got their start, how they successfully scored their first job, and if they have any advice they’d like to offer. You will also be given pointers on how you can interact with patients or more successfully communicate with your co-workers. In such circumstances, you supervisors usually tell you exactly how you are doing and provide pointers on how you can improve. Your externship is the golden opportunity to learn from everyone around you.
  6. Job Insight: Many people know exactly what career they want and they remain focused on their goal even after an externship but, for others, the opportunity to participate in an on-the-job shadow career may show them that their future job is not what they expected.  An externship gives students a great view of what is to come professionally.

Preparing for an Externship

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your big job shadowing experience:

  • Invest in a notebook and pen so you can take notes. Your notes will enable you to retain the knowledge that you gain working throughout the day and job shadowing your supervisors and give you something to refer back to when questions arise. The notes will also help you think of questions to ask. You might even find that your notes are invaluable later in your career, even when your program is completed.
  • Learn everything you can during your externship. It is a great time to challenge yourself by taking on even more work and even cross training into other aspects of the field. This is truly a time to spread your wings so you can walk away with as much knowledge as you can gather.
  • Ask a lot of questions and be a good listener. Many students mistakenly believe that they might be hounding their supervisors and coworkers by asking too many questions during externship but this is not the case. Facilities that on externships do so because they believe in the value of educating the next generation of tomorrow’s workforce. It will pay off when you are ready to enter the real world of career searching. Those very people might remember your name and play an integral role in you attaining the career you seek.

An externship can bring things into focus. In a recent study by Forbes, it was reported that 99 percent of individuals who opted to undergo an externship felt that they had a clear career path.  At City College you can benefit from all aspects of career training by embarking on an exciting externship as part of your allied health program. City College offers externships in several of its Healthcare programs, including Medical Assisting, Medical Office Administration, Emergency Medical Services, Anesthesia Technology, Surgical Technology, Cardiovascular Sonography, and more!

For more information on one of City College’s healthcare programs, please contact us. An Admissions Representative will be sure to help guide you to the program that is the right fit for you and that will jump start your healthcare career!