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Four registered nurses and a nurse educator inspect equipment on a table in the West Lincoln Hospital new operating room. They are all dressed in scrub gowns, masks and surgical caps.
Jennifer Pettit, education and development clinician (far left), demonstrates surgical equipment in the newly renovated operating room at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. Registered Nurses Michelle Dawson, Deborah Thompson, Crystal Iannotta, and Milena Kiperovic have all been hired as interns in a first-of-its-kind program to recruit and retain OR nurses.
January 26, 2021

Additional support for HHS during COVID: Nursing Externs Program

HAMILTON, ON – The Ontario Ministry of Health recently announced a new Nursing Extern Program, in which select hospitals in Ontario were invited to participate. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is pleased to participate in this opportunity.

The Extern Program is designed for hospitals to hire numerous nursing students who are in their third and fourth years of the BScN program, as well as nursing students in their final year of the Practical Nursing Program. The program funding is estimated to support over 75 externs, and will start immediately and run until June 2021.

“Clinical externs will be involved in delivering care to our patients, which include head to toe assessments and vital signs, promoting patient safety through falls risk assessments and skin assessments, help with activities of daily living, and other nursing interventions that are assigned or delegated to them,” says Charissa Cordon, Chief of Nursing Practice at HHS. “Nursing students participating in this initiative will be learning very important clinical nursing skills, and the program will help students transition into the nursing role much easier.”

There will be direct benefits for HHS according to Kirsten Krull, VP Quality and Performance and Chief Nursing Executive, “These future nurses are augmenting their breadth of practical experiences and building confidence in patient and family care, and concurrently gaining experiences of belonging to and learning first hand about inter-professional team work.” Externs will experience more of what HHS has to offer, influencing their visions for their nursing jobs upon graduation. Participating in this program will also enhance patient experiences by supplementing healthcare worker supports at the bedside during this time of heavier workloads.

“We thank the Ontario Ministry of Health for this wonderful opportunity for HHS to participate in this well thought out and yet flexible program that we can design to best meet our needs,” says Rebecca Fleck, Director of the Regional Rehabilitation Program at HHS. “And it wouldn’t be possible without our partners. It will be a mutually beneficial program for all involved.”

HHS is pleased to work with community partners – namely, McMaster University, Mohawk College and Conestoga College – to implement this program.

“Partnering with HHS in this extern initiative provides an opportunity to strengthen the future of learners in our BScN Program (McMaster-Mohawk-Conestoga). It is important for us to contribute to quality patient care,” says Joanna Pierazzo, Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Nursing Programs, McMaster University. “We look forward to our learners having an opportunity to mentor alongside other nurses.”

“This opportunity will have a positive impact on the development of clinical expertise, competence and self-confidence, and contribute to job readiness for Practical Nursing students as they complete their program and begin their careers in healthcare,” adds Beth Morris, Associate Dean, Nursing at Mohawk College.

The Nurse Extern position is viewed as a developmental role, whereby students develop clinical expertise, specialty knowledge and self-confidence as they move from a student to a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). Externs will be in an unregulated care provider status, and will be supervised by an RN or RPN during their time at HHS.

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For more information, please contact:

Wendy Stewart
Communications & Public Affairs
Hamilton Health Sciences


Clinical Extern Job Posting
Clinical Extern Coordinator Job Posting