The Effect of a Structured Internship on the Clinical Performance of Novice Nurses?

James Whyte IV, Roxanne Hauber, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The study examined the clinical performance differences of novices before and after a critical care internship and compare their performance attributes to a reference group comprised of experienced critical care nurses. The extant research regarding clinical internship programs has focused on retention in practice, workforce issues and competence. While studies have shown a pattern of improved retention in practice settings, they have failed to objectively measure actual clinical performance.

Methods: The study design was based on pre-post comparisons of novice nurses and a reference group comprised of experienced nurses who served as a benchmark. The novice group was required to respond to patient needs in high-fidelity clinical scenarios before and after an internship. The experienced nurses attended a single testing session.

Results: Findings revealed statistically significant improvement in the performance of the novice group; however, they failed to perform at the level of the experienced nurses.

Conclusions: The study is the first to detail the degree to which a structured internship can facilitate changes in selected aspects of clinical performance. The study establishes the effect associated with engagement in a structured internship. While novices improve significantly, they fail to achieve the level of clinical performance seen in experienced nurses. The paper will present background information related to the established effects of internship programs, and will then present the data related to the current study. The paper will then present similarities and differences between the results of the current study, and the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nursing Education and Practice
Issue number11
Early online date11 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


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