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What are the most important things to include in my nursing orientation program?

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It is not possible to say what should or should not be part of orientation, nor is it possible to identify the correct length of orientation. What is possible is to give you some tips to evaluate and strengthen your orientation program:

  • Consider forming a nursing orientation task force or have orientation addressed at least semiannually during unit-based and other councils as part of the shared governance model if your organization espouses shared governance. The opportunity for members of the nursing staff to have input often helps to control some of the negativity sometimes associated with orientation. It also offers nursing professional development (NPD) specialists to provide evidence (such as turnover rates, rates of competency achievement, etc.) regarding the effectiveness of orientation.
  • Meet with preceptors at least semiannually. They are more likely to buy-in to the entire orientation process if they have the opportunity to provide regular input and hear, directly from NPD specialists, the evidence that is available regarding orientation success (or lack of success) and preceptor impact on retention and turnover.
  • Implement, review, and revise orientation based on evidence, not complaints or even accolades.
  • Orientation will always be a dynamic process, constantly undergoing evaluation and revision. Everyone involved needs to accept this. This acceptance makes it easier to being accustomed to the idea of frequent change regarding orientation.

There is no magic solution to orientation because orientation is in a constant state of change. However, by reviewing these suggestions, you will hopefully find ways to deal more effectively with the challenges orientation provides.

-Adrianne E. Avillion, D.Ed, RN

(August 2012)