New Grad Nursing Tips: How to Get the Most Out of a New Hire Orientation

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We all know that starting a new position can be stressful and overwhelming. Nursing orientations are something that is often quite different than other workplace orientations. Unlike corporate retail stores and chain restaurants where majority of the policies and procedures remain the same among various locations, in nursing, policies and procedures can vary wildly from one nursing unit to the next within the same institution.

by Damion Jenkins Damion Jenkins, MSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in NCLEX Prep Expert - 100% Pass Rate!. Has 12 years experience.

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New Grad Nursing Tips: How to Get the Most Out of a New Hire Orientation

To help you focus on the essentials during this transition time so that you gain the most out of your new hire orientation, here are 5 tips to help you develop strategies for success:

#1 Make sure you seek out opportunities to perform tasks and skills

It is essential that you gain as much hands-on experience as possible during your orientation time. Your time of flying solo will come sooner than you anticipate, so be sure to maximize your time with your preceptor. A great way to ensure that you gain maximum exposure to skills and tasks during your training is by working with your preceptor in asking other nurses on the unit if their patients need certain tasks or skills performed. This will allow you to capture additional experiences that you may not have experienced otherwise. The more you experience during your orientation, the better you will do when you are expected to perform independently.

#2 Ask questions to expand on your current knowledge base

Inquiring minds are vital to the role of the nurse. You should focus on building and expanding your knowledge base during your orientation. When you find yourself not fully understanding something, it is imperative that you seek clarification immediately. By identifying your learning need, and communicating this need with your preceptor, you are demonstrating safe and effective nursing behavior. It is recommended that you ask questions that go beyond daily responsibilities and search for a deeper understanding of the big picture. For example, understanding the rationales behind why certain patient care supplies are used rather than others you are more familiar with allows you to learn and grow your expertise. Just remember safety is always a priority, so when in doubt - seek it out!

#3 Establish a feedback schedule with your preceptor and nurse manager

Although this feedback schedule is typically built into new nurse orientations, some facilities have not implemented this practice. It is crucial to your growth and professional development for you to receive regular and structured feedback regarding your performance during your orientation. Generally, this is done with both your preceptor as well as your direct supervisor or nurse manager. Topics during feedback meetings include: addressing your questions, observations related to your performance, and progress planning and evaluation. It is also a time where you may provide feedback to your preceptor and manager about their performance in regards to helping you meet your learning needs. Sometimes there may an issue where you feel that you are not getting what you need out of the orientation, and this would the best time to discuss it so that all parties are involved and so a plan for improvement can be made immediately.

#4 Find a method of staying organized that works best for you

You've already learned from nursing school that staying organized is key to staying focused - and sane, during stressful times. Orientations are full of new information that is covered in a very a short period of time. Therefore it's extremely important that you find a way to keep everything straight. Some examples for staying organized include: creating folders to keep important documents safe and readily available, using electronic calendars for scheduling, creating step-by-step guides to facilitate your learning-especially in regards to electronic documentation, and keeping all essential nursing equipment and tools - such as your stethoscope, scissors, pens, markers, etc., in a designated bag, or your facility provided locker. Staying organized will help you learn more efficiently and while keeping the stress levels low.

#5 Remain professional and polite on the job at all times

Let's face it - we've all had our bad days. It's very easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed during an orientation. Although we may even get to the point where we want to throw our hands up and drop a few "F" bombs, we must always consider professionalism as it is essential to our growth and opportunity for promotion. During stressful situations, you must remain positive and professional at all times - despite how you may feel at the moment. Since everyone will be watching you when you first start within your new position, it is imperative that you make a great first impression. You'll want to smile, introduce yourself and get to know the other members of the healthcare team you will be working with. Forming strong working relationships early on will help you ease into your new role by establishing a good team that you can depend on when you need assistance.

Want to share tips that helped you get the most out of your new hire orientation? Do you have any tips or strategies that you'd want to share with new grad nurses? If so, please share by posting in the comments below!

Hi! I am Damion - a Registered Nurse, Educator, Tutor and Writer! I am the owner and operator of - a nursing education and consulting company & blog. I love to help nursing students, new graduates and nursing professionals alike to develop strategies for success!

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