UH Geauga Offers Paid Internships to Kent State Nursing Students

Nearly half (44 percent) of the nurses in Northeast Ohio are graduates of the Kent State University College of Nursing. As a regional campus, Kent State University Geauga Campus has become an expanding nursing workforce pipeline for many healthcare organizations throughout the region. Even before they earn their degrees, Kent State Geauga students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program are being hired as nursing interns throughout the University Hospitals healthcare network.

Jason Pirtz, MBA, BSN, RN, is the Chief Nursing Officer at University Hospitals (UH) Geauga Medical Center. He is responsible for ensuring all nurses at UH Geauga uphold state-mandated standards of nursing for patient care. His role also includes creating a learning environment and opportunities for future nurses to gain practical experience as they work toward their nursing degrees.

In fact, UH Geauga has increased its number of nursing internship posts by 400 percent over last year when they created three nursing intern positions. Out of 12 total nurse interns at the hospital in 2019, seven are new this summer. These internships are open to nursing students enrolled at Kent State University, Case Western Reserve University – Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Notre Dame College, and Ursuline College. These students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher after completing their junior year and be enrolled in a two-credit course offered by their school, among other requirements.

While a majority of the new nursing interns hail from the Kent Campus, two of the UH summer interns, Kayla Brown and Ashley-Estella Boyd, will be returning BSN seniors this fall at the Geauga Campus. They are about midway through their full-time, paid 10-week summer internship program at UH Geauga.

“We create a pathway for them, so they become our employees when they graduate,” Pirtz explains. “This is great exposure for them to do comprehensive hands-on work with patients; it doubles their clinical hours.”

There are a total of 70 nurse interns working at 12 locations throughout the regional UH network in 2019, Pirtz reports. The program should help to offset projected nurse shortages, which are expected to reach 3,500 by the year 2023 throughout the region. “If we can recruit, strengthen and retain top talent from our region now, we will be in better position to fill expected gaps in our nursing staff over the next several years,” Pirtz explains.

This internship program is designed to provide nursing students with the necessary clinical exposure to gain confidence in the field while strengthening critical thinking, team nursing and time management skills. The nurse intern helps to provide patient care, assisting individuals in gaining, maintaining, and restoring optimal health. Nursing interns learn first-hand what it’s like to be a nurse at UH by working within the registered nurse's scope of practice under the direct supervision of an RN preceptor who provides them with a variety of practical opportunities. 

For example, nurse interns develop their interpersonal skills with patients and their families while also practicing technical skills and exploring clinical areas of interest for future career planning. Interns use a wide variety of technical equipment to meet patient care needs and prescribed medical therapies, such as stethoscopes, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, and electronic monitoring devices.

Kent State Geauga has 60 students currently enrolled in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and expects 90 BSN students to be enrolled by fall 2019. UH Geauga just may increase their nurse internship program another 400 percent in 2020 to keep pace.