Cleveland State Community College partners with Tennova Healthcare – Cleveland to provide training and clinical hours for student nurses. Educating and training future nurses for the community is a mission for the college and the hospital. 

More than 50 student nurses from Cleveland State receive clinical training at Tennova each year, and many are hired at the hospital in the Nurse Extern Program which began last year. In the program, nursing students are hired by the hospital to assist patients and perform a variety of patient care tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). The students gain experience in multiple departments, work a flexible schedule around their college classes and earn a part-time income to help with expenses.

During their last semester, the nurse externs shadow a RN to help prepare for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), the test that all students must take to be a licensed registered nurse in the United States. 

Before graduation, the externs can interview for full-time nurse positions with different departments at Tennova. This year, the hospital celebrated with a sports-like Draft Day where departments announced their employment offers on the big screens. Some externs received multiple offers and got to choose the department where they will work. 

Kim Reddish, Chief Nursing Officer at Tennova, supervises 700 hospital employees including 400 nurses, and she oversees the Nurse Extern Program. “My goal here is to make sure that we have excellent clinical care,” said Reddish. “The way that we do that is to have partnerships with clinical and academic institutions around us like Cleveland State. We want to support students and the college by helping build clinical knowledge and mentorships so students who come from Cleveland State can be employed here as well.”

A native of Englewood, Tennessee, Miranda Shelton will graduate from the Cleveland State nursing program in May. She is part of the Nurse Extern Program at Tennova and will begin working as a nurse in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) at Tennova after graduation.  

“I chose the Cleveland State nursing program because I wanted to attend a school that would allow me to have the highest chance of success in achieving my dream career. I have family members and friends who have also attended Cleveland State,” said Shelton. “Tennova’s Nurse Extern Program has helped me in many ways. Prior to starting the program, I had no healthcare experience. Having the opportunity to work at Tennova as a student has allowed me to relate what I have learned in the classroom to the real world. After seeing things be put into practice at work, I was able to get a better grasp on the concepts that I was learning in school.”

Not only have Cleveland State students completed clinical hours and worked in the Nurse Extern Program at Tennova, many students have been hired by the hospital over the years, and some have even returned to the college as nursing faculty and adjuncts. 

“We have a great leadership team at Tennova and a great team of nurses; many of them are Cleveland State alumni including two of my nurse directors,” said Reddish. “We definitely have seen a lot of wonderful contributions from the Cleveland State nursing program; a lot of alumni are doing amazing things. It is very rewarding to work in a community and build these kinds of relationships.” 

Maureen Baksh-Griffin, Director of Nursing at Cleveland State said, “As a transplant whose nursing work experience prior to landing in Southeast Tennessee was all based in New York City, I believe that the partnership our nursing program has with Tennova is most certainly nourished and tended to by committed faculty and employees of both organizations who care about the Cleveland area community and producing world class nurses!”

For more information about the nursing program at Cleveland State, contact Maureen Baksh-Griffin at or (423) 478-6212.