Hi guys, welcome to today’s blog on nursing orientation.

After reading today’s blog, you’ll become well-versed on what nursing orientation is, the components, and tips for making the most out of an orientation program.

Specifically, our discussion will center on:

  • The explanation of orientation
  • Essentials of a good orientation program
  • Tips to take advantage of nursing orientation

Let’s delve into the discourse!

Understanding Nursing Orientation

Understanding Nursing orientation

 Nursing orientation is designed for new nurses or those with changes in specialties.

It keeps nurses updated on procedures, documentation, and policies within a new healthcare facility.

Orientation generally involves pairing an inexperienced nurse with an experienced counterpart where the former learns from the latter.

A nurse educator or clinical nurse expert supervises the orientation process.

Types of Orientation Programs

Types of Orientation Programs

Different healthcare facilities offer various orientation programs, and you should familiarize yourself with them before a job interview.

The four terms used are mentor program, preceptor program, nursing orientation, and residency program.

Most hospitals overlap these four components.

However, research what the specific term stands for at the facility where you aim to work.

Below is an explanation of their meanings in a conventional acute care hospital:

Nursing Orientation

Many hospital orientation programs involve a general orientation and a unit-specific orientation.

Classroom education involves enlightenment from all departments in the hospital and how to use electronic medical records.

The duration of the classroom education depends on the individual healthcare facility.

Mentor or Preceptor Program

Upon completing general hospital orientation, you’ll move to unit-specific ones where the hospital authorities assign you a mentor or preceptor.

Preceptors are registered nurses with a minimum of a BSN or MSN degree and have worked for at least two years in the facility.

These are experienced registered nurses who orient new hires on nursing practice.

The facility, mentor, and specific unit where you’re posted will determine the duration of the unit orientation.

Most unit orientations last between three to six months.

However, if you work in a critical care unit, your orientation may last for up to one year.

Residency Program

Many institutions now implement residency programs for new graduates due to the challenge of finding competent hands to work in critical care units such as the Operating Room (OR) and Emergency Department (ED).

The program requires new graduates to participate in general nursing orientation and continuing education in specific skill areas.

For instance, if you’re hired to work in the OR or ED, you need skill competency in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) or ECGs.

You also need some unit-specific education that will make your professional practice seamless.

Upon completing classroom education and skill competency verification, you’ll orient in your specific unit for one year or more.

Some facilities now make arrangements with nursing schools for their nursing students to participate in residency programs while still in school.

Essential Components of a Good Orientation Program

PMHNP vs. FNP: introduction

A result-driven orientation program must have the following components:


Facilities should develop curricula and modules for preceptors to make the orientation goal-driven and focused.

The modules will guide the preceptors on what to teach their mentees.

For instance, orientation programs on patient care may focus on diagnosis and procedures and may be accompanied by high/low-risk incidence competency.

Not every expert clinical nurse can serve as a good preceptor.

Authorities should choose preceptors based on clinical expertise and their ability to assess and teach new staff nurses.

It will be helpful if facilities organize a workshop for trainers with topics on adult learning and how to give feedback.

It will help mentors on how the right way to orient new graduates.


Facilities should put in place a system that ensures newly hired registered nurses are integrated into the team seamlessly.

Introduce new staff nurses during staff meetings or morning huddles.

If you no longer gather physically for meetings due to coronavirus, introduce them through e-mail communication by name and roles.

Take them on a familiarization tour of the facility.

Mentors should make the orientation program highly interactive by observing breaks and rest periods with their subordinates.

Nurse managers should interact with new team members daily.

It doesn’t have to be a long interactive session; a simple “Hello, how are you doing today?” can do the magic.

Grant them access to electronic platforms as soon as they’re hired.

It’s frustrating for recruits not to have access to some systems such as door access, medication dispensing system access, parking garages, and computer log-ins.

It makes them feel they’re not yet part of the team, which can debar them from learning.

Goal-Directed Learning

Nurse managers should draft benchmarks and KPIs to monitor precepting events.

You may adopt Benner’s From Novice to Expert method.

The approach allows you to orient new nurses from fundamental issues to more complex procedures over the weeks.

Evaluate their progress weekly to know if there’s a need for specialized training.

Trainers should share daily learning objectives with new nursing staff to help them identify procedural opportunities and patient care.

New staff onboarding should follow team ownership to understand the essence of collaboration in nursing jobs.

Direct Two-Way Feedback

Nurse managers should hold weekly meetings with new team members and their mentors during the nursing orientation program.

The mentor and new staff nurses should submit separate progress reports during the meeting.

The nursing leadership should create a favorable environment for recruits to be open, confident, and relaxed to air their opinions.

The two-way feedback ensures that recruits aren’t lagging in the nursing orientation program.

The nursing leadership should provide honest but encouraging feedback that will facilitate the professional development of the new staff nurses.

Preceptors should give feedback on the performance of new staff concerning nursing procedures and patient care.

The feedback should be timely and effective to enhance the professional development of recruits and boost their confidence.

Some team members may require an extended nursing orientation program to fit into the special units.

Plan for such extensions to put them on the pedestal of success!

Continuous Support

Upon the conclusion of the orientation program, the authorities should make provisions for the continuous support of the recruits.

The mentor should keep their doors open to answer the endless questions of the new nursing staff.

New staff nurses should participate in the routine evaluation process to measure their retention rate.

The authorities should also involve new staff nurses in unit projects and governance councils to ensure their retention and longevity at the facility.

Hospital authorities should follow these essential components to ensure high-standard nursing care, teamwork, and nurse satisfaction during an orientation program.

Nursing Orientation Tips

Nursing Orientation Tips

A nursing orientation program is a two-way thing; both the authorities and the new staff nurse have roles.

It will help if you don’t leave everything to only the providers.

Here are some tips to help you maximize an orientation program:

School of Nursing Teaches Just the Basics

Many stakeholders have testified that the nursing school doesn’t teach comprehensive concepts you need in the real world.

Thus, you must take advantage of the learning opportunity orientation programs offered to you.

Don’t assume that you’ve learned everything during your BSN program.

Such a mentality will deprive you of authentic learning opportunities.

Even if you’ve earned an MSN, there are still many things to learn during an orientation program.

Your nursing education is incomplete without undergoing an orientation program.

Orientation is demanding

Be mentally prepared for the energy-sapping nature of an orientation exercise.

At some point, it will look as if you’re sinking but don’t freight; it’s part of the process.

It is even more demanding when you’re in a critical care unit.

It will look as if you’ve never gone through nursing education before.

Don’t be discouraged, but be passionate and active through every learning process.

Classroom Education Will Bring You Thus Far

Earning a distinction in your BSN program will only give you the job, but you need more than A’s in the classroom to execute the task properly.

Nursing orientation will empower you with the nursing abilities to carry out your duties.

Ask Questions

The essence of an orientation program is to teach you.

Even if you had an excellent result in your diploma, you still don’t know it all.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Make the program interactive by asking questions on any grey area.

The more questions you ask, the more enlightened you become.

Ask your mentor if you don’t know how to complete a task.

Remember that the orientation program isn’t infinite, so take advantage of the opportunity you have now to learn well.

Observe Well

While asking questions is good, it is even more profitable to observe.

Take note of how your preceptor cares for patients and carries out clinical procedures.

Pay attention to as much nursing care as you can.

It doesn’t matter if the patient isn’t yours.

No knowledge is a waste.

As you observe, you’ll learn many things that will be useful for you in the future.

Focus on Your Leaning

The essence of the program is to learn, and nothing should distract you from doing the needful.

Before completing the program, ensure you know the names of drugs in your unit or floor, how to use them, and their adverse effects.

You’ll only find nursing practice fulfilling if you know more than before the orientation exercise.

Distractions will come, but you must be resolute to shove them off.

Don’t Be Too Docile

You shouldn’t answer ‘yes’ to every request.

There are times to say emphatically, “No.”

Don’t be shy to turn down tasks or requests that do not align with your purpose.

People will unapologetically take undue advantage of you if you turn yourself into a doormat.

You’ll be the loser at the end of the day.

Speak Up

If there’s anything you’re not feeling good about, open up to the authorities.

If your mentor isn’t giving you the desired value, report to the authorities for a change.

Keep speaking until you get what best fits you!   



We discussed the nursing orientation exercise in this piece.

We explained the meaning and types of orientation programs.

The article emphasized the importance of an orientation program for effective and quality service delivery in the healthcare sector.

Nursing students and newly graduated students must be intentional about their orientation exercises.

They should be particular about the value and what they intend to learn for future service delivery.

You should ask questions about the orientation exercise of a facility after a job interview to know if it’s right for you or not.


FAQs on How to Become A Trauma Nurse

What does nursing orientation consist of?

Nursing orientation is for nurses who are changing specialties or are new on the job. Orientation for hospital-based nurses includes general classroom education from the different departments, as well as the use of Emergency Medical Records (EMR).

How long should nursing orientation be?

Most nursing orientation takes between 1-2 months to complete, depending on where you’re hired. During this time, you will work side-by-side with an experienced nurse to gain relevant practical education.

Why is orientation important in nursing?

Orientation programs are geared toward helping new nurses develop general nursing and hospital knowledge, nurse-patient relationships, competency, clinical judgment, experience, and vital skills needed for a successful nursing career.




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