Forrest General Hospital’s Nurse Extern Program Graduates 20

Published 3:59 pm Thursday, August 11, 2022

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (August 2, 2022) Twenty students who participated in the 2022 Forrest General Hospital Nurse Extern Program completed their training Friday, July 29. The students, who hail from Alcorn State University, Mississippi University for Women, Pearl River Community College, and The University of Southern Mississippi, complimented the program saying they have gained valuable experience during the past two months that will help them better care for patients in the future.



The 2022 Nurse Extern Program, which began at the beginning of the summer, concluded with a luncheon. The nurse externs are senior-level nursing students who work under an RN preceptor to further develop their nursing skills. They will return to school this fall, with 17 of the 20 graduating in December.



This summer program, which ran from May 23 to July 29, is a joint effort between the Mississippi Council of Deans and the Mississippi Hospital Association. Instructors include Kim Smith, MSN, RN, (USM); Kim Smith, MSN, RN (USM); Dr. Arlene Jones (PRCC); Dr. Ira Scott-Sewell, (Alcorn); and Lindsey P. Mitchell, MSN, RN (MUW).


The purpose of the program, which requires 320 work hours, is to provide students with an opportunity to enhance competencies; assist nursing students to experience a typical work environment; prepare nursing students to assume responsibilities of a full-time registered nurse, and encourage retention of nursing graduates.


“Our main goal is to enhance the skills the students have already learned such as starting IVs, Foley catheters, compressions as well as time management,” said Smith. “This is a great program to allow them to develop clinical, technical, and organizational skills as they work the same shift as their preceptor.”


Forrest General’s 2022 Nurse Externs are: TyTiauna Armstrong, Lakydrique Benn, Leanna Carter; Destiney Fountain, Charlotte Miller, Niyah Whitfield Jones, Emma Tolliver, and Anna Grace Woods, all of Hattiesburg; Emily Blades, D’Iberville; Sophie Brooks, Mandeville, LA; Alyssa Canoy, Wiggins; Amerika Espinoza, Sumrall; Casey Turner Pierce, Columbia; Rebecca Pugh, Purvis; Emily Rushing, Centerville; La’Keiya Thompson, Collins; Mya Tribune, Memphis, TN; Margaret Walden, Vancleave; Brittney West, Lumberton; and Julia Claire West, Petal.


Jones, a Southern Miss student who worked on 4T, said the Extern Program has allowed her to be more comfortable with her skills and to have the opportunity to critically think about certain situations. “Sometimes getting to spend time with a patient really lets you know what’s going on with them,” she said. “That’s allowed me to not only do that but also build relationships with my patients. The experience has made me more comfortable to get the skills and experience I need in order to be a successful nurse.”


For Charlotte Miller, a nursing student also graduating from USM in December, said the extern program taught her so much. “I feel so much more comfortable in all areas of nursing, especially working in the Emergency Department,” where she was able to see all types of nursing because of the variety of patients who visit the ED. Miller said she was “more comfortable going into patients’ rooms, more comfortable hanging antibiotics through a pump, which used to be hard, but now I feel very confident in.” Miller applauded her preceptor, Kelsey Strahan, who she said “went out of her way to make me feel comfortable. I think that’s what really made the program so great.  She told me that as a student nurse she remembered feeling out of place and didn’t want me to feel that way.” Miller has her eyes set on a career in the ER. “I loved my experience and everybody was so kind and helpful to me. Forrest General’s ED is amazing.”


This program would not be possible without the support of nursing administration, patient care managers, and registered nurses who are willing to serve as preceptors for nurse externs, according to Linda Holmes, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, education specialist at Forrest General. She expressed thanks to ICU, ED, L&D, 4FB, 5T, 4T, 2T and Pool Nurses. This year’s preceptors: Betty Williamson, Caylen Beall, Lateesha Hatte, and Kadeshia Smith, all from Pool; Katlyn Peden 5T; Angelica Arellano, Nikki Rivera, Michael Hughes, Kole Stringer, Rachel Jerome, Tyler Lowery, Brandi Woods, Mandi Chance Pool, Jaiden Jackson, and Cody Holland, all from ICU; Kelsey Strahan, Ashley Fly, and Dallis Scruggs, all from Education; Kaitlyn Smith 4FB; Zehara Livingston 2T; Ashely Martin 4T, Christina Thornton L&D. This is the first year the Emergency Department and Labor and Delivery were added to work areas.


Shasta Terry, PCC and L&D interim manager, said she believes the Extern Program gives students more of a perspective, because a lot of the new graduate nurses or people who think they want to work in L&D don’t actually know what all it entails. “It really helps them decide whether or not this is a specialty they are genuinely interested in or if their expectations outweigh the reality,” she said.


For Anna Grace Woods, graduating in December, it reinforced her desire to work in L&D. “This program gave me a better understanding of how things are done and to be comfortable in the job,” she said. “It’s also made me realize that this is absolutely what I want to do.” She credits her preceptor, Christina Thornton, for helping guide her, correct her, and show her ways to improve. “Everybody on the floor was great, but she was always there for me.” Woods said she was able to witness at least one birth every day during the program.


Holmes said the Nurse Extern Program, which is a collaboration between the School of Nursing and the Hospital, is a great way to help senior-level student nurses increase confidence and competence in skills and patient care. “It gives them a realistic picture of providing patient care in a hospital setting, learning time management, prioritizing and documenting care, and it eases their transition into their role as a new registered nurse,” she said.