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A resident, an elderly lady, on a balcony.

St. Stephens’ nursing home and Nursing School Horn – pioneers in pre-professional internship for nursing staff

The unique cooperation, which combines theoretical knowledge with practical experience right at the beginning of the education, creates great enthusiasm among students and residents.

Due to an increasing number of older people, especially developed countries are faced with negative impact on health care services as fewer (young) people want to work as nursing staff. The pre-professional internship project for nurses aims at preventing an early dropout of those who wish to take up this profession.

Support for trainees

Teachers of the local Health and Nursing School developed the project in 2016 and tested it in cooperation with St. Stephens’ nursing home in 2017. There was need for action as a student survey after the first mandatory internship revealed that the nursing stuff trainees were unable to cope with inadequate assignments and/or lack of guidance by experienced staff. As a result, many students quit their education. To approach the problem, some employees of St. Stephens’ nursing home became practical instructors in order to ensure support for the trainees (‘onboarding’) prior to the first mandatory internship. All courses of the Nursing School in Horn have attended the pre-professional internship since 2017. There were significantly fewer dropouts after the first mandatory internship.

Positive effect

The difficulty of establishing the project was to create new documents and to prepare operational processes for pre-professional internship in both organizations, which required detailed coordination. Still, regular mutual feedback remains crucial to enable the evolution of the project. The results of student surveys since 2017 (questionnaires; response rate: 80%) show that more than 50% of pre-professional internship trainees report a positive effect, especially in reducing fear concerning contact with care of geriatric patients.

Initial contacts

Teachers as well as mentors of internship meet several times a year to discuss feedback from pre-professional internship graduates. Suggestions for improvement are incorporated into documents and procedures. Another part of the meeting is to schedule future internship trainees – i.e. into small units of the St. Stephens’ nursing home where they will complete their pre-professional internship. The teachers and mentors take care to ensure that the pre-professional internship takes place in the same unit as the first mandatory internship. In this way, initial contacts with the regular staff and the residents take place easily and minimize stress concerning the mandatory internship.

The aim of both organizations is to minimize local shortage of nurses by training and accompanying people who choose this profession in the best possible and appreciative manner. The innovation is the connection between theory and practical experience that early in the education process, i.e. even before the mandatory internship.

Bewohner*innen im Stephansheim
Praktikant und Bewohnerin


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