How to get the most out of your nursing orientation
I will talk about the nurses I precept and how I notice a difference in those who embrace every opportunity in their department orientation vs those who are told what to do. I will mention how nursing orientation goes beyond the days on the floor. You have to continue your own education, and you should be excited to do it. I also talk about coming to work on time and prepared for your job.
Turnover rates for new graduate nurses are too high. Many of this turnover is related to the lack of support they have after their orientation. However, many of these nurses do not take the initiative to improve their orientation. Leaving your nursing job hurts the unit, financially and for staffing purposes, but it may hurt your ego as a nurse as well.
Have you thought about what you can do to improve your orientation, or what you could've done? These tips can help you if you are just starting out, starting a brand new job, or training someone brand new.
Educate Yourself – is over, but your education is not. You must always keep learning. Keep a nursing school book near you, in your locker, or at home. Write down things you don’t know to look them up later. Only you can be in charge of your own knowledge.
Build your ego– orientation is the time during your career when you always have a resource person. Therefore, do everything you are afraid of. Maybe you haven’t inserted a Foley catheter since nursing school. Ask to do them with your preceptor. By the end, people will be coming to you for help!
Don’t act like you know everything – Everyone has had that person in nursing school who thinks they know everything. Don’t be that person. There is no need to talk about how smart you are. People want to know your experiences, but don’t gloat about them. Those who are book smart, are not always the best in the clinical setting. Show how smart you are through your work, not through your words.
Don’t pretend like your know something – On the other hand, if you don’t know something, ASK about it! Sometimes, you do something a second time with your preceptor, and you may still have questions, even through the third or fourth time. Ask questions, don’t be afraid. Your preceptor, if she is good, will understand.
Fire your preceptor- This is the most difficult part of being a brand new nurse. Are you and your preceptor not a good fit? No one will stand up for you in this situation. You have to stand up for yourself, and your nursing licensure. You won’t have a preceptor forever, and you need to be trained by someone who cares. Don’t let your preceptor make you a bad nurse. Talk to your director and get yourself someone who meshes with your personality.
Too much, too soon – It is entirely normal to feel overwhelmed with new information, every nurse will tell you they were overwhelmed at the beginning of their orientation. Preceptors expect it. There is a lot thrown at you, beyond just medical knowledge, you have unit policies, hospital policies.
Expect mistakes – We are human, mistakes will happen. Ideally, you will not make a mistake that could hurt a patient, but that happens too. Don’t be afraid to try something new in orientation, but be sure you have someone to help you with the task. Never feel stupid asking questions to do something correctly.
Communicate – You should know how your preceptor and manager think you are doing. Feedback is a way you can learn to grow and change, for the better. The orientation process is always a work in progress, and you can learn what works and doesn’t work, giving the next new nurse a better experience.
Check In – Make a weekly meeting with your preceptor and educator to go over anything you may have questions about, or to hear how well you are doing, as well as what you need work on.
Be prepared – Come to work ready to work. Impress your coworkers with your enthusiastic attitude. You can even show up a little early in the shift. Find out your assignment and prepare for your day.
You will succeed through your orientation with these tips. These tips, if used right, will enhance your career as well! Remember to take care of your new nurses when you become a seasoned nurse. Remember the feelings you have being new, don’t be one of those nurses who ”eating their young.” Change that perception for new nurses and embrace all who have chosen this caring, challenging, and rewarding profession.Last edit by Joe V on Oct 20, '17
About JanineKelbach, BSN, RN
Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of www.WriteRN.net. Janine has been an RN since 2006, specializing in labor and delivery. She ventured into writing in 2012. She still works in the hospital. She, her husband, and two boys reside in Cleveland, Ohio.
Joined: Jan '14; Posts: 71; Likes: 165
RN; from US
Specialty: 15+ year(s) of experienceJan 29, '17Great article. I agree with everything you've said. I mean this in the most constructive and friendly manner possible: Some proofreading may be beneficial in the future. It is very difficult to critique our own work. The content is great.