How to Create an Orientation Program for Nursing

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The average turnover for nurses each year in any health care facility is more than 8 percent, according to a report by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. This number triples for first-year nurses, who experience a 27 percent turnover rate as they make the transition from nursing school to a medical facility. While there are multiple avenues for lowering the turnover rate, one way is to create an orientation program for nursing.

  • Form a planning committee or team. While one person might carry the main responsibility for the development and implementation of a nursing orientation program, it’s important that representatives from different areas are allowed to voice their suggestions and concerns. Not only is this more likely to produce ideas and concepts for orientation, but it gives each department a vested interest in the success of an orientation program.

  • Start with the basics. Hospitals and other medical facilities can be intimidating complexes to new nurses, especially those starting their first job after their recent graduation from an educational training program. To acquaint nurses to the facility, an orientation program needs to provide a tour of the facility and introduce new nurses to key staff in different departments. During introductions, the key staff member can provide new nurses with an overview of the area, including the services they provide, special awards they’ve received or special equipment they have.

  • Cover organizational information. Nurses, doctors and other professionals in health care organizations play a role in the overall success or failure of an organization’s goals and mission. New nurses need to be aware of the mission and goals of a facility to ensure they know what they should be striving toward as a member of the health care team. Policies and procedures also need to be covered to educate nurses on standard practices within the facility, such as emergency situations, disaster response and attendance.

  • Inform new nurses about facility communication. Each health care organization has its own method of communication and it’s important that new nurses know what the method and process for communication is. For some this might be email, while large hospitals might use internal paper newsletters or flyer postings to spread information between departments and staff.

  • Acquaint nurse with job responsibilities. After receiving a basic orientation about the entire health care facility, a nurse can begin learning her specific job responsibilities. The nurse’s supervisor or another staff member needs to provide an in-depth tour with the nurse of the specific floor or wing she is scheduled to be on. She also needs to be acquainted with record-keeping procedures in the department, as well as current patients on the floor or wing and their nursing needs.

  • Emphasize the importance of orientation. After creating an orientation program for nurses, promotion of the program and its potential to benefit the organization needs to occur. Each department must be on board with having its employees complete orientation, rather than view it as a waste of time.

  • Periodically review the orientation program. New nurses that go through orientation should be given the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience completing the orientation program. A committee can meet, review the feedback and determine whether or not changes need to be made to the orientation program.

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