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Orientation is often a stressful time for new graduates. Is there anything I can do to ease them into it?

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The transition into practice can be a difficult, but you can help your new graduates overcome the stressors and grow in critical thinking more easily when the orientation process recognizes and deals with these stresses. Consider the following strategies to incorporate into your orientation program:

  • Holding regular support group meetings with fellow orientees.
  • Using a mentor or assigning a buddy (or sponsor) who builds a relationship and will follow the nurse for at least a year.
  • Holding a treasure hunt for supplies or other departments during their first week of work. It will help their confidence if they know where the laboratory is located when someone stops them in the hall to ask.
  • Holding a roundtable of the institution's staff nurses who have been out of school for two to five years, who can offer tips and support. (These nurses will be experienced enough to have learned, but not so experienced to have forgotten.)
  • Spending a day rounding with a teaching physician who frequently admits to the unit.
  • Emphasizing the importance of just "tell somebody" when something is abnormal, even if they do not know the cause or the solution. Alerting someone else will help new nurses learn. Make clear that waiting, assessing, and hoping is not a good solution.

-Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN