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RNs in Primary Care Internship

Program Overview

The RNs in Primary Care Internship (RNPC) supports and develops community based experiences to prepare newly graduated BSN nurses to assume roles in primary and community care settings. Through a Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), WCU's School of Nursing (SON) developed a practicum internship based in primary care that helps build skills and knowledge required of nurses working to their full scope of practice in primary care.

As the focus for reimbursement for healthcare services moves towards payment based on outcomes, new roles are emerging for nurses to help manage and navigate care for populations in primary care and community settings. Western Carolina’s school of nursing is helping prepare student nurses for these emerging roles.

The RNs in Primary Care practicums are offered to students beginning the semester they enroll community/mental health NSG 423, one of the 2 courses in which the practicums are embedded. Students complete more than 100 hours in practicum to develop skills in care coordination and transition management (CCTM) and the role and scope of BSN prepared RNs practicing in primary care. These practicum experiences will prepare students to:

  1. Assist clients in navigating the maze of specialists, appointments, medications, and follow-up appointments
  2. Engage with the entire healthcare team at their clinical site
  3. Develop clients’ care plans
  4. Identify and advocate for needed resources for clients
  5. Identify social determinants of health and the need for inter-professional collaboration
  6. Develop data management and Quality Improvement (QI) skills to assist in population management
  7. Become familiar with models of care used in primary care settings
  8. Articulate the value of the BSN-RN


The RNs in Primary Care Grant also supports a 6 month intensive Primary Care Residency and Fellowship. Students are not required to complete the Internship before applying to the Residency/Fellowship nor is it required to apply after completing the internship. Participants of the Residency/Fellowship will further their experience in primary care after completing their BSN. The cost of completing the program is funded by the HRSA grant. To learn more about the RNs in Primary Care Residency/Fellowship please visit:

Watch below to learn how RN's can positively impact and improve patient outcomes and be a cost effective part of primary care teams.



Why should I participate in the RNs in Primary Care Internship?

Nurses that work in primary care can work to their full scope of practice and exercise autonomy.

Nurses work as leaders in inter-professional teams to deliver care to clients throughout their health continuum, not just episodic care. This facilitates nurses developing rapport and trust between clients, helping to foster therapeutic relationships. These settings provide you the opportunity to really establish relationships with the clients you serve.

Skills that are gained from these practicums help to prepare students to take on roles in primary care, as well as in acute care, post-graduation.  Prior students in the program have reported they learned how to conduct a holistic assessment, provide care coordination and transition management, coaching, motivational interviewing, and quality improvement.

 Will this put me at a disadvantage for NCLEX success?

During these practicums, students will work 1:1 with experienced preceptors to utilize the nursing process, developing plans of care for complex patients in need of counseling, education, medication reconciliation, and effective treatment plans.  The skills and knowledge required to work in this setting reinforces what students have learned from classroom setting plus much more.

  • 100% of the students that have completed the Internship over the past two years have passed NCLEX on the first attempt.

Will practices hire a new graduate in primary care?

Many of the RNPC Internship participants are hired in primary care after graduation. As the focus for healthcare moves towards value over volume, new roles are emerging for nurses to help manage and navigate care for individuals in primary and community settings.

How will the RNs in Primary Care Internship enhance learning?

Students will be asked to participate in several simulation activities such as interprofessional trainings and virtual reality simulations throughout the two sessions.  All simulations are counted in the hours required for the course. Attendance (virtually) is required at both mid-session check in and an end of session forum.  Hours are also counted towards the course requirements.

What experiences will students receive at during practicums?

  • During Session One, students rotate through various sites to learn about various roles of the RN in primary care as well as how each clinic functions and be exposed to different models of care.
  • During Session Two, students are assigned to a primary preceptor and practice site, where students provide care management for an identified group of patients and communicate needs to the interprofessional team. Other activities include:
  • Making home visits, visiting migrant farmworkers camps, seeing clients at the hospital, making follow-up calls.
  • Reviewing client medications and inform client and staff of any issues or compliance related barriers
  • Conducting holistic assessments, identifying social determinants that may affect client health and wellness
  • Identifying community resources and linking clients to those resources if needed
  • Assisting with Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for clients with substance use disorder.
  • Engaging in data analytics to assess the needs of population(s) and developing a plan to improve practice outcome metrics.
  • Assisting with billing and coding to maximize reimbursement related to nursing activities.
  • Working with interdisciplinary teams.

What do former students say about the program?

  • Knowledge and skills required in these practicums helped challenge them in ways that acute care experiences did not.
  • Identified resources that they were also able to share with clients and co-workers in other work environments.
  • Discovered the numerous roles and opportunities for nurses in primary care that they didn’t know existed prior to participating in the practicum.
  • Students valued skills learned in motivational interviewing and conducting a holistic assessment.

What primary care facilities/partners are involved?

Blue Ridge Health Services

Cherokee Indian Hospital


Mission Health System


Who is eligable to apply?

Any student participating in ABSN, RIBN or Traditional programs can apply to the RNs in Primary Care Internship. Click here or the apply now button on this page. For more information about the Internship, please contact Danielle Martin, RNPC Residency/Fellowship Director at


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