2017 Independence Blue Cross Foundation nurse interns
Since its inception, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s (Foundation) Nursing Internship Program has provided internships to nearly 250 undergraduate nursing students attending schools across southeastern Pennsylvania. The program was started by Independence Blue Cross (Independence) in 2004 and has been run by the Foundation since 2011. Through the ten-week program, interns gain unique experiences in nonhospital settings, such as regional community health centers and at Independence Blue Cross learning about the insurance side of health care.
In addition to providing participants with a unique look at nursing roles that are not always included in nursing curricula, the internship also helps better prepare the next generation of nurses to provide care in underserved communities. Additionally, the interns build professional competencies through professional development Leadership Labs, volunteering, mentorship, and a research project.
Widener University’s Leadership Center for Nursing Education Research (Center) recently completed an evaluation of the internship program to determine its effectiveness and potential for replication by other organizations. The Center determined that the program “provided a transformative experience for undergraduate nursing students.” In its report, the Center specifically recognized that the internships help students build valuable interpersonal skills through Leadership Labs and engage with community partners through volunteering with organizations like MANNA, a nonprofit that delivers meals to individuals living with life-threatening illnesses.
A key finding was that the internship program could be replicated and scaled through other organizations across the county. Broadening this program would increase opportunities for nurses to gain new and different skills that could help improve patient care in a variety of health care settings. Full results of the study can be found here.