Bailey Smith, a class of 2024 nursing major from Frederick, Maryland, is spending the summer gaining hands-on experience and shadowing professionals in an organ transplant unit through Medstar Georgetown University Hospital’s Student Nurse Technician Externship program. Already a student leader on campus through her involvement in Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Sigma Theta Tau (nursing honors society), National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), Astronomy Club, and the American Sign Language Club, she is honing her leadership skills for a successful career in nursing. Describing the externship as “an incredible learning experience,” Smith encourages nursing students to explore similar opportunities near them.
Wittenberg: How did you get interested in Wittenberg, and why did you choose to attend?
Smith: As a legacy, I had grown up hearing about how amazing Wittenberg is. When I started applying to colleges, I decided to apply just to see what would happen. I ended up going on a tour, and I absolutely fell in love with Witt. I immediately felt like Witt was the place I needed to be.
Wittenberg: What do you like best about Wittenberg?
Smith: I love that Witt offers every student the opportunity to have a personalized experience. Every member of the Wittenberg community cares about your success and future, which has made Witt an incredible experience for me. I also love that students are encouraged to participate in multiple activities that interest them. There is a huge emphasis on involvement and being a well-rounded student.
Wittenberg: How did you get interested in nursing as a course of study and future career?
Smith: I always knew I wanted to be in a career that would benefit people in need while also challenging me intellectually. Another one of the reasons I was drawn to nursing was because of the vast range of careers that stem from nursing.
Wittenberg: Please share some comments about your experiences with the nursing program at Witt.
Smith: One of my favorite things about Witt Nursing is their emphasis on research and evidence-based practice (EBP). Because of their strong focus on EBP, I got the opportunity to do my own research and present my findings at a national nursing education conference. Witt Nursing focuses on making sure nurses know the “how” but also understand the “why” when they are caring with patients.
Wittenberg: How did you find out about the externship at Georgetown?
Smith: I was chatting with a nurse about how to better prepare myself for senior year/after graduation. She encouraged me to apply because this program offers students the opportunity to work in a hospital setting and gain experience before entering their senior year. There are lots of hospitals around the U.S. that have externship programs, so I encourage members of the classes after me to research what opportunities are near them.
Wittenberg: Please describe some of your experiences from the externship.
Smith: I have gotten to explore Washington, D.C. with other students in the program, learn about nurse wellness/mental health services, and navigate the daily routine of being a nurse/nurse tech. This externship program offers students the opportunity to learn about how to be a nurse and balance life outside of work/school. One of the most exciting things I got to do was a scavenger hunt around the D.C. area. The students were divided into teams and had to visit various landmarks and monuments between Georgetown and Washington, D.C.
Wittenberg: How are you benefitting from the externship?
Smith: This externship is enhancing the knowledge and skills that I’ve learned in nursing school so far. It’s also giving me a lot of exposure to different specialties because they offer shadow opportunities to all the students. I’m also learning a lot about how to balance the lifestyle of being a nurse while working 12-hour shifts. I’m on an organ transplant unit, so I’m learning a lot about post-operative care, organ systems, and medications for organ transplant patients.
Wittenberg: What are your future plans?
Smith: I have the most interest in becoming an ICU nurse, but I’m not totally sure yet. I have enjoyed many of the clinical rotations that I have done in school, and I also enjoy the unit that I’m on at Georgetown. I will probably start my nursing career as a medical-surgical nurse so I can gain valuable experience and learn as much as I can from many different kinds of patients. I would eventually love to continue my education and work in the field of medical research or nursing education.