Effective nurse managers are made, not born. Even experienced nurse managers coming into a new organization benefit from manager orientation to familiarize themselves with the specific cultural attributes, policies and expectations of the organization and its employees. Nurse manager orientation includes a wide range of issues, but certain key elements are found in the most effective programs.
Focus on Mission, Vision and Values
It is important for new nurse managers -- whether hired from within or recruited externally -- to understand the health care organization's mission, vision and values. While all health care organizations are concerned with patient care and service, and quality, there can be variations in focus that are important for new managers to know. For instance: Nurse managers need to understand whether the culture is one of collaboration or if it is more directive. A clear understanding of what is important to the organization, and what is not, ensures that the nurse manager will be effective.
Focus on Internal and External Needs
Orientation for new nurse managers should focus on both internal (employee) and external (patient) needs. This ties back to the organization's values in terms of its emphasis on service versus its focus on efficiency, for example. Orientation should include information about what is important to the health care organization in terms of meeting employee needs and what areas of need are most important for employees. The same is true of external customers or patients. Nurse managers should know about the areas where the organization excels as well as the areas of focus for improvement.
Specific to Each Nurse Manager's Needs
Orientation should be focused on each individual nurse manager's needs. A nurse who has extensive experience in management at another health care organization will not need much orientation on supervisory issues; a new manager will. A nurse who comes to the organization from another facility will need more information on the health care organization, its structure, policies and procedures than a nurse promoted from within.
Nurse managers will also be oriented to the specifics of the job. This involves a review of operating procedures, protocols and often the assignment of a mentor or preceptor to assist the nurse manager during the early days and weeks of the job. Health care organizations are driven to a large degree by specific policies, guidelines and protocol, so documentation provides a resource that new nurse managers can turn to to find out how things are done.