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I have been looking at redesigning my facility’s orientation program and am wondering what key points I should review when deciding what to add or change?

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Each staff development department's analysis will reveal strengths and weaknesses unique to its particular organization. However, some generalizations can be made:

  • Cost efficiency must improve, taking into consideration not only orientation delivery but also the cost of recruiting and retaining staff and the cost of turnover
  • Orientation programs must be reviewed to determine whether they meet the needs of learners with varying learning styles
  • Orientation programs must be reviewed to determine whether the learning needs of four distinct generations are being met
  • Orientation programs must be designed to meet the needs of mature healthcare employees
  • Programs must promote a supportive, caring environment beyond orientation. Examples of such programs are mentor programs and residencies
  • Programs should be based on evidence
  • Programs should promote accelerated learning as the rapid pace of advancement in the diagnosis and treatment of illness and injury requires healthcare professionals to learn swiftly and apply their knowledge in the patient setting accurately

Keeping these generalizations in mind, look at each of your orientation components. Based on the evidence obtained from your analysis, what needs to be revised? Are there components that are redundant? Are there some that are more appropriate for a unit-specific or department-specific orientation? Are there components that are common to all departments that should be included in the core orientation of the organization?

After you've answered these questions, you are ready to redesign your orientation program, keeping in mind that you are striving for evidence-based staff development practice.

Adriane E. Avillion, DEd, RN

(February 2010)