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Internship versus Externship: What’s the Difference?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

The nine-month Dental Assistant program at Unitek College covers a wide range of job responsibilities. Not only will our students be able to learn chairside assistance during dental procedures, but they can also leave with a full understanding of dental radiology, terminology, dental lab duties, management, and dental techniques—because the more you know about the dental profession, the better you can anticipate needs within your office. One final aspect of the Dental Assistant program is the medical externship—a term that raises eyebrows on occasion. Most people are familiar with internships—paid and unpaid—but an “externship” isn’t a term you hear every day. So to get everyone on the same page, we’ve compiled some points that explain the difference between the two educational programs.

Job Responsibilities

One of the biggest differences between internships and externships is the level of work responsibilities within each. During an internship, students are often put right into the workforce: you may be asked to do low-level jobs with few responsibilities, but you are actively working and actively gaining job experience within that company. An externship, on the other hand, is far more focused on educa tion than job performance. Rather than woTooth Xrayrking, an externship typically involves job shadowing—your opportunity to follow a medical professional and observe them in their day-to-day duties. You can ask questions, explore, and observe—rounding out your classroom knowledge with real life application.

Paid vs Unpaid

Internships are sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid, and sometimes, employers find little ways to help their interns make ends meet aside from a paycheck. Externships, on the other hand, are short bursts of exposure to days in the life of medical professionals, and typically don’t offer any sort of pay or stipend.

Time Spent

An internship generally requires participation for long periods of time. Some can even last up to a year or longer. An externship is much, much shorter. The advantage to shorter experiences is that students can have multiple externships within their program, opening up more and more opportunities to learn from professionals in the field. And with the Unitek College dental assistant program only spanning as little as nine months, time efficiency is everything.

Future Employment

Internships, for the most part, are designed to fill positions within a company. If the managers like what they see from a student, they will do what they can to keep that student around after graduation—which is why most internships take place in the final semesters of a student’s degree. Externships are designed to give students experience and insight into the field as a whole, not just one company, and so by design aren’t designed to transition into jobs. However, because students get greater exposure to industry professionals through externships, these educational moments can lead to future opportunities as students network, explore multiple practices, and make personal connections. New Dental Assisting Program Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the difference between the two educational experiences, and a little extra insight into the life of a Dental Assistant student at Unitek College. We believe the experience you’ll gain while following dental professionals is priceless, but as always, with internships and with externships alike, the experience you get depends completely on the how much you put into it. Give your externship your full focus and effort, and you may be amazed where it leads. You can read more about the Unitek College Dental Assistant program by following this link:

Dental Assistant Program Launches At Sacramento Campus

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Brace yourself, Sacramento… the Unitek College dental assistants are coming.

According to Dr. Seuss, “teeth never go out of style,” and in this case, the Bureau of Labor Statistics backs up his claim. There’s never been a better time to be entering the job market as a Dental Assistant. With the number of jobs growing by close to 25% over the next ten years, it should come as no surprise that dental assistant associates degrees are in demand, which is exactly why the Unitek College Sacramento campus is hard at work planning the launch of their own dental assistants program next month.

In celebration of the new program, we’ll be taking a closer look at the world of dental assistants over the next few weeks. A day in the life of a DA is hard to describe in just one post-your work could take you in any number of directions as you work side by side with dentists and dental hygienists. That day of work could involve taking x-rays, scheduling appointments, or assisting your dentist directly. Let’s just say it’s a lot more than just colorful smocks and handing a dentist the tools she needs.

“You’re literally
helping put
smiles on
peoples’ faces.”

This is a dynamic job in one of the fastest growing career fields in the United States, which means the possibilities are endless. To put some perspective on the numbers, while dental assistant jobs are growing at a rate of 25%, the demand for police officers is at 5%, chefs are also 5%, and high school teacher jobs are only growing at about 6%. If you’re looking for a degree that puts you where the work is, it’s tough to beat the opportunities ahead of qualified dental assistants.

And think of it… you’re literally helping put smiles on peoples’ faces. What’s not to like?

Don’t forget to check back each week as we continue to explore the career opportunities ahead of our Dental Assistant graduates, plus some sneak peeks at the program, the people making it happen, and more from our Sacramento campus.

Chief Academic Officer Says San Francisco Needs 14,000 Nurses By 2020

Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5:58 pm

From candy striper to naval nurse to chief academic officer, Christy Torkildson’s passion has always been nursing. Hailing from Brooklyn and Miami, Torkildson worked as a candy striper at the local Children’s Hospital and knew that she had found her calling. She currently serves as chief academic officer for Unitek College and NCP College of Nursing, overseeing all academic programs and administering Unitek’s CCNE-accredited (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) RN to B.S.N. nursing program to over 1000 students at five campus locations.

Christy Torkildson

Unitek College CAO, Christy Torkildson

What is your background and education?

“I have a B.S. and M.S. in Nursing, with an emphasis on administration and education, and will soon be defending my Ph.D. in Family Nursing and Health Policy at UCSF. I’ve worked Neuro ICU, Oncology, Neonatal ICU, OB, Pediatrics as well as working as clinical specialist, nursing informatics and house supervisor. I began as a Navy nurse and was the first program director for George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, the first pediatric end-of-life and transitional care facility for children and their families in the country. I started teaching as a part-time clinical adjunct professor in 1990 and have been teaching ever since.”

What is your outlook on the health care industry in San Francisco for jobs?

“The country is facing a nursing shortage – the workforce is expected to grow by over half a million by 2022. The San Francisco Bay Area – impacted by an aging population, the Affordable Care Act as well as having a concentration of world-class medical institutions –will need over 14,000 nurses by 2020. Is the investment worth it? RNs in San Francisco make $91,000+ a year compared to the national average of $65,000. There’s also the need for qualified nursing instructors where graduate degrees are required.”

What career advice can you offer to students interested in a career in health care?

“The health care field is full of opportunities from direct patient interaction to supportive services. I decided what kind of nursing I wanted to do by volunteering as a candy striper. Attend career fairs and college open house events where you can talk to individuals working in the diverse fields of health care and nursing and speak directly to health care professionals about their experiences and education.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on



A Fresh Look at Florence Nightingale

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Finding new respect for iconic nurse

Her name is synonymous with nursing, yet many in the profession today are unfamiliar with the legacy of Florence Nightingale. An article on by physician Victoria Sweet reminds us of Nightingale’s groundbreaking achievements and the lasting impact she has had on the healthcare profession.

When Sweet studied at medical school, she recalls how she dismissed Nightingale as an unsuitable female role model. Later, when she was practicing at an old-fashioned hospital in San Francisco, she heard the comfortable open wards called “Nightingale wards,” and became curious.

Thus began a period of discovery that gave the author a deep appreciation for the woman dubbed the “Lady with the Lamp” for her tireless nightly rounds giving care to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.

“So much of what she fought for we take for granted today — our beautiful hospitals, the honored nursing profession, data-driven research,” notes Sweet.

Nightingale came from a privileged background yet had no interest in the life expected of a young woman in her social position. She turned down every suitor and, in defiance of her parents’ objections, took every opportunity to train as a nurse, which she felt was her true calling. After many years of working and learning the profession, she eventually took charge of a hospital in London.

When the Crimean War broke out, the British Secretary of War asked her to gather a team of nurses and go to the base hospital in Constantinople, where ill and injured British soldiers languished in filthy conditions — more dying from infection than from their wounds.

Nightingale’s work in improving the conditions at the hospital were credited with reducing the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds. She also introduced the concept of an “invalid’s kitchen” that prepared food for patients with special dietary requirements, and added a laundry, a classroom, and a library.

When she returned from Crimea, Nightingale wrote an 830-page report that sparked a revolution in healthcare. She also changed the public perception of nursing: once frowned upon by the upper classes, nursing became viewed as an honorable profession.

Sweet surmises that Nightingale would have approved the Affordable Care Act, though not the power it gives economists and lawyers over the roles of doctors and nurses.

“I imagine she would have seen the health care law as a work in progress, and what we have still to learn from her, even so long after her death, is her willingness to fight and her determination to get it right,” writes Sweet. “She didn’t accept being told in her own life, and she wouldn’t have wanted us to accept it in ours.

Unitek College Unitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical AssistingPharmacy TechnicianVocational NursingRegistered NursingBachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology.

For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit

California Nurses Honored for Excellence

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm

2014 GEM regional award winners announced’s annual Giving Excellence Meaning (GEM) awards recognize exceptional nurses in six different categories. Writing in on July 14, Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, introduced this year’s regional winners.

Clinical Nursing, Inpatient

Linda W. Ritter, RN, CPON: Clinical nurse IV, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, Calif.

Ritter knew from personal experience how difficult palliative care was, and how unprepared most nurses felt to provide it. So she spearheaded a range of projects and programs in order to help staff provide compassionate care for patients nearing the end of life, including creating retreat rooms, planning conferences, revising policies, and honoring more than 100 individuals with Starfish Awards.

Advancing and Leading the Profession

Bernice L. Coleman, RN, PhD, ACNP-BC, FAHA, FAAN: Nurse scientist, nurse practitioner, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Coleman was praised for her unique ability to integrate science research questions with clinical practice and community education. She is credited with influencing both heart transplantation and pharmacogenetics through her pioneering work in pharmacogenetics and genetically tailored medication prescriptions.

Education and Mentorship

Sandra Pieschel, RN-CDE, MPA, BSW: Diabetes educator, Valley Presbyterian Hospital, Van Nuys, Calif.

Pieschel is called a “beacon of hope” in the world of inpatient diabetes management. She was honored for her work in helping staff understand the multiple needs of patients with diabetes, developing processes and tools and educational programs that have ultimately improved patient care and outcomes.

Home, Community, and Ambulatory Care

Donna J. Beckman, RN, BSN: Credentialed School Nurse, Coordinator of health services, special education, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stockton, Calif.

Beckman provides care and case management to more than 350 special education students and their families, and collaborates with a local dentist to conduct oral health screenings for developmentally disabled kindergarten students. But she “is most proud of the nursing care she has given in the quiet moments no one can see — sitting with dying patients, holding their hand and praying over their passing, working with families through difficult times and supporting them and caring for dying patients at home.”

Patient and Staff Management

Teri Armour-Burton, RN, MSN, MBA, CNML, NE-BC: Nurse manager, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif.

“Find your niche in nursing because there are so many different options,” says Armour-Burton. “Once you do that, stay current, pursue the appropriate advanced degrees and never stop learning.” Armour-Burton is proof positive of that approach as she manages an award-winning Progressive Care Unit and pursues a PhD. She has also inspired at least 25% of her nursing staff to pursue advanced degrees as well.

Volunteerism and Service

Linda E. West-Conforti, RN, Registered nurse, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Jay, Calif.

Seven years ago, West-Conforti created Angels In Waiting, a nonprofit organization that gives RNs skilled in neonatal and pediatric intensive care the opportunity to work at home and care for medically fragile foster care infants and children. The program helps to move these young patients from institutional or at-risk settings into private residences and under the care of experienced RNs and LPNs.

Unitek College

Unitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical AssistingPharmacy TechnicianVocational NursingRegistered NursingBachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology.

For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit

Nurse Fired for Posting Trauma Room Pic

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm

‘NY Med’ star stunned by dismissal

The worlds of nursing, television, and social media collided for nurse Katie Duke last year. Her nursing job did not survive the crash.

Duke was an emergency room nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a featured character on the hospital documentary series NY Med on ABC when she was fired by the hospital for posting a picture to Instagram that the hospital deemed “insensitive,” according to

The picture was taken by one of Duke’s colleagues and showed an empty trauma room where a patient had been treated after getting hit by a subway train. Duke took a screenshot of the photo and posted it to her Instagram account along with the caption, “Man Vs 6 Train … The After. #lifesaving #EMS #NYC #ER #Doctors #nymed #trauma #realLife.”

Duke’s firing, which took place last year, was captured by the cameras and broadcast on NY Med’s second season premiere on June 26. Duke says that she made sure the photo did not violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects patients’ privacy, or the hospital’s social media policy before she posted the picture. But that did not prevent her firing.

“It was a complete shock when they told me we’re firing you over this,” Duke, who had worked at the hospital for seven years, told the Daily News. “At the end of the day I would have preferred a strong talking-to.”

True to form, Duke’s firing and subsequent career struggles were dutifully filmed by NY Med, which called her story “very humanizing.”

Duke’s advice for others in the medical community regarding social media: Don’t violate patient privacy, don’t say anything negative about your workplace, and think before you post something that could be deemed offensive.

NY Med is currently the most-watched show in its Thursday night time slot.

Unitek College

Unitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical AssistingPharmacy TechnicianVocational NursingRegistered NursingBachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology.

For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit