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Nursing orientation is designed for new nurses or those with changes in specialties.
It keeps nurses updated on procedures, documentation, and policies within a new healthcare facility.
Orientation generally involves pairing an inexperienced nurse with an experienced counterpart where the former learns from the latter.
A nurse educator or clinical nurse expert supervises the orientation process.
Types of Orientation Programs
Different healthcare facilities offer various orientation programs, and you should familiarize yourself with them before a job interview.
The four terms used are mentor program, preceptor program, nursing orientation, and residency program.
Most hospitals overlap these four components.
However, research what the specific term stands for at the facility where you aim to work.
Below is an explanation of their meanings in a conventional acute care hospital:
Many hospital orientation programs involve a general orientation and a unit-specific orientation.
Classroom education involves enlightenment from all departments in the hospital and how to use electronic medical records.
The duration of the classroom education depends on the individual healthcare facility.
Mentor or Preceptor Program
Upon completing general hospital orientation, you’ll move to unit-specific ones where the hospital authorities assign you a mentor or preceptor.
Preceptors are registered nurses with a minimum of a BSN or MSN degree and have worked for at least two years in the facility.
These are experienced registered nurses who orient new hires on nursing practice.
The facility, mentor, and specific unit where you’re posted will determine the duration of the unit orientation.
Most unit orientations last between three to six months.
However, if you work in a critical care unit, your orientation may last for up to one year.
Essential Components of a Good Orientation Program
A result-driven orientation program must have the following components:
Facilities should develop curricula and modules for preceptors to make the orientation goal-driven and focused.
The modules will guide the preceptors on what to teach their mentees.
For instance, orientation programs on patient care may focus on diagnosis and procedures and may be accompanied by high/low-risk incidence competency.
Not every expert clinical nurse can serve as a good preceptor.
Authorities should choose preceptors based on clinical expertise and their ability to assess and teach new staff nurses.
It will be helpful if facilities organize a workshop for trainers with topics on adult learning and how to give feedback.
It will help mentors on how the right way to orient new graduates.
Facilities should put in place a system that ensures newly hired registered nurses are integrated into the team seamlessly.
Introduce new staff nurses during staff meetings or morning huddles.
If you no longer gather physically for meetings due to coronavirus, introduce them through e-mail communication by name and roles.
Take them on a familiarization tour of the facility.
Mentors should make the orientation program highly interactive by observing breaks and rest periods with their subordinates.
Nurse managers should interact with new team members daily.
It doesn’t have to be a long interactive session; a simple “Hello, how are you doing today?” can do the magic.
Grant them access to electronic platforms as soon as they’re hired.
It’s frustrating for recruits not to have access to some systems such as door access, medication dispensing system access, parking garages, and computer log-ins.
It makes them feel they’re not yet part of the team, which can debar them from learning.
Nurse managers should draft benchmarks and KPIs to monitor precepting events.
You may adopt Benner’s From Novice to Expert method.
The approach allows you to orient new nurses from fundamental issues to more complex procedures over the weeks.
Evaluate their progress weekly to know if there’s a need for specialized training.
Trainers should share daily learning objectives with new nursing staff to help them identify procedural opportunities and patient care.
New staff onboarding should follow team ownership to understand the essence of collaboration in nursing jobs.
Direct Two-Way Feedback
Nurse managers should hold weekly meetings with new team members and their mentors during the nursing orientation program.
The mentor and new staff nurses should submit separate progress reports during the meeting.
The nursing leadership should create a favorable environment for recruits to be open, confident, and relaxed to air their opinions.
The two-way feedback ensures that recruits aren’t lagging in the nursing orientation program.
The nursing leadership should provide honest but encouraging feedback that will facilitate the professional development of the new staff nurses.
Preceptors should give feedback on the performance of new staff concerning nursing procedures and patient care.
The feedback should be timely and effective to enhance the professional development of recruits and boost their confidence.
Some team members may require an extended nursing orientation program to fit into the special units.
Plan for such extensions to put them on the pedestal of success!
Upon the conclusion of the orientation program, the authorities should make provisions for the continuous support of the recruits.
The mentor should keep their doors open to answer the endless questions of the new nursing staff.
New staff nurses should participate in the routine evaluation process to measure their retention rate.
The authorities should also involve new staff nurses in unit projects and governance councils to ensure their retention and longevity at the facility.
Hospital authorities should follow these essential components to ensure high-standard nursing care, teamwork, and nurse satisfaction during an orientation program.
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