Rola Moghabghab

NP, PhD; Director, Interprofessional Practice, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Poster Title: Implementation of a Clinical Extern Program in a Mental Health and Addictions Setting

Poster Description: Clinical Externs are nursing students, in their second to fourth year of study in a baccalaureate or diploma nursing program, that are employed as unregulated care providers working under the supervision of a nurse. Externships help prepare nursing students for their transition to roles as nurses while simultaneously assisting in meeting with organizational recruitment and retention goals, as the evidence suggests that many externs are retained as nurses in the organization, once they complete their education program. In addition to meeting recruitment goals, the literature suggests that externships can assist with: passing registration exams, increasing confidence in clinical and time management skills and reducing recruitments costs.

In an effort to alleviate COVID-19 related human resources challenges and support recruitment of future nurses, our organization implemented a clinical extern program. This involved hiring 60 students from nursing education programs to work on inpatient units and the emergency observation unit for a six month time period. These externs were employed by the corporate nursing resource unit team and had an opportunity to rotate to a different unit halfway through the employment period. The scope of practice was designed to encompass tasks that are less complex, more predictable and lower risk for negative outcomes. Examples include: assisting with activities of daily living, patient rounding and provision of comfort activities. Externs were supported by an Extern Mentor Coordinator during orientation and integration to the clinical areas. After competency was demonstrated, externs could participate in some nursing assessments such as vital signs measurement and mental status examinations. Evaluation of the program is underway through the administration of surveys to externs and key stakeholders, as well as the collection of some aggregate human resources data.

Learning Objectives:

  • To describe the implementation of a clinical extern program in a mental health and addictions setting
  • To discuss facilitators and barriers for successful implementation
  • To outline extern and stakeholder feedback on the program


Biography: Rola Moghabghab is the Director, Interprofessional Practice and an Independent Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She has extensive clinical experience as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in geriatric mental health and geriatrics working in different hospital and community settings. More recently she has worked in regulatory policy and professional practice roles. In the role of Director, Interprofessional Practice, she supports the scholarly and academic practice of clinicians and practice leaders.



Gillian Strudwick, RN PhD FAMIA; Independent Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Biography: Dr. Gillian Strudwick is an Independent Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She is an Assistant Professor (Status) at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. She holds academic appointments at Western University and the University of Victoria, and is currently the President of the Ontario Nursing Informatics Group. As a tri-council funded researcher, Dr. Strudwick conducts studies in the fields of digital mental health care and informatics. Dr. Strudwick completed her undergraduate degree in nursing at Queen’s University, and both her Masters and PhD at the University of Toronto. She began her career as a mental health nurse in Kingston, Ontario, and has since worked in a number of clinical, professional practice and research based roles in both public and private organizations


Rola Moghabghab Poster Video

Rola Moghabghab CFMHN 2021 poster