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Many new orientees want guidance and support beyond the period of orientation. How can my organization offer this to them?


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Through mentors, who are very different to preceptors. Preceptors are primarily concerned with helping the orientee acquire the ability to function as an entry-level employee. They concentrate on helping the new employee gain skills throughout a limited, specific period of time. The preceptor relationship generally ends with the conclusion of orientation.

However, a mentor is someone who is involved with the all-around professional development of an individual. The mentor relationship generally has no fixed conclusion. The mentor acts as a nurturer who listens and guides the new nurse. Research indicates that a long-term relationship, such as mentoring, has a positive impact on job satisfaction and retention.

Another option, and a positive, long-term program is residency. A number of healthcare organizations are offering residency programs in an effort to reduce turnover, improve retention, and enhance job performance. A nurse residency program is generally a partnership between academia and practice in a healthcare setting. Its purpose is to facilitate the new graduate's transition into professional practice.

Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, RN-BC

(July 2010)