LCSC Nursing Student Shane Henning Discusses what it was like working at the Mayo Clinic

This past summer, I had the privilege of participating in the Summer III externship program hosted by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Out of approximately 1,000 applicants,110 of us were selected from across the nation to participate in this 10 week program. During our externship, we were employed by the Mayo Clinic in a specialized contract specifically designed for nursing students, which granted us many of the benefits of a Mayo employee like discounts to movie theatres, plays, stores, hotels and more. 

The program provides us with a clinical coach, or preceptor, who we follow and work closely with. I had two clinical coaches that I rotated between depending on the schedule and where I may have desired to work that day. They were very kind and influential toward my education and experience. Under their supervision, I moved from a role of observing to performing most, if not all, of the tasks that the nurses were responsible for in my unit. Most of all, I really appreciated their determination to push me to learn and discover things on my own, when. When I didn't know what a medication was or I needed a refresher on what it does, they never gave me the answer, instead they always answered, "That's a fantastic question to ask, why don't you figure it out on your own." They were always there to help me if I really need it but they mostly liked to push me to be an investigator in my nursing care and develop more critical thinking skills. They would always say, "I'll let you swallow some water once in a while, but I'll never let you drown." I believe I was blessed with some of the best clinical coaches in the program, though I realize that, that is a subjective point of view. They both reminded me of my clinical instructors at school. They always challenged me to be better and was someone I knew I could rely on for support if I ever needed it.

I met nursing students from all over the nation, treated patients from all over the world, and worked alongside caring Mayo Clinic staff and doctors throughout my entire experience. It was an amazing learning experience as well as a good example of what nursing is really like; there’s nothing like working 5 days a week, to give me a glimpse of what the real world of nursing is like. I was blessed to spend my time in the Post-Anesthetic Critical Care Unit (PACU), doing pre-op and post-op nursing for most of the summer. My experiences during my time there were various and extensive. Not only was I able to see extremely rare cases come through the PACU but I have also seen and cared for all kinds of races, genders, ages, and conditions. My favorite part in the PACU was the outpatient pediatric unit where same-day surgeries/procedures were performed. In this area the pediatric patient would be admitted with us, go back for the procedure (like a bronchoscopy, or adenoids, ect) then come back to us to wake up and become oriented again, to the point where we could send them home with their parents that same day. I didn't know how I would feel about pediatric patients but the more I work with them, the more I began to love caring for them and their parents. Even the more difficult kids with tracheotomies, or mental disabilities, I found very interesting and developed a soft spot for. That part of my experience this summer has been most valuable to me and developing my future goals and aspirations as a nurse.

As far as the culture of the Mayo Clinic, I am nothing short of impressed and amazed by their ability to be organized, structured, professional, and effective in their ability to provide health care to each individual patient. They take exceptional care of their employees and their respective family members including the Summer III externs. It is very impressive how much money they put into making sure the patient is number one in the minds of all healthcare providers they employ. The Mayo Clinic has very high standards of their staff which is made very clear during orientation and is probably why their system is so renowned and impressive. They definitely invoke confidence in their visitors and the environment breeds competent and capable health care providers. They have been good role models for me in modeling the professional manner in which I will perform my duties as a nurse in the future. My entire experience at the Mayo Clinic is one that I would relive over again if I could. I implore other nursing students to look into and apply for this amazing opportunity, you won’t regret it.