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What should a good orientation for new staff development employees include?

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There are some basic elements of any good orientation. These do not revolve around competencies or policies and procedures. They focus on making the new staff member feel as though they are a welcome addition to the department.

  • Make new members of the staff development feel welcome. This may seem to be obvious, but unless you give it the same attention that you do to competency assessment and explanation of job descriptions, "welcoming" may become "lost" in the multitude of details involved in orientation. Be sure to introduce new staff members to everyone in the department on their first day. Make sure they are shown to their desk and given a tour of the department and classroom areas. Tell them you have been looking forward to their arrival. Make sure their work space contains necessary equipment: working computer, e-mail, office supplies, organization telephone directory, etc.
  • Invite new colleagues to lunch, especially during those first few hectic days. It is still amazing to me that so many new employees are left isolated and to fend for themselves when they join a new staff development department. Include new employees in your lunch plans or breaks. Ignoring new colleagues will give them the impression they are not wanted.
  • Do not put new colleagues in embarrassing positions. Again, this may seem self-evident, but feedback from staff development colleagues shows that it continues to occur among professionals who pride themselves on teaching clinical nurses how to precept and facilitate orientation among newly hired nurses. We need to apply what we're teaching others. Do not, for example, introduce new staff members as "the one who will be answering your orientation questions" when new staff members are being oriented themselves.

- Adrianne E. Avillion, D.Ed, RN