Before you officially become a nurse, you must graduate from nursing school, become licensed as a registered nurse (RN), and apply for your first job. Once you are hired, you will attend your first nursing orientation at your hospital or clinic. A nursing orientation is a course or set of courses designed to educate new employees about the facility’s procedures and policies. New nurses will also learn standards, codes of conduct, and the proper way to document patient information.

During orientation, employees will discover a wealth of information, including more about their work responsibilities. While these are some of the basics, your employer may also instruct you on other items that are specific to the hospital or clinic. Orientation topics may include how to stay safe and protect patients, as well as what color scrubs or what kind of nursing shoes to wear. You may also find out if you need to supply your own protective gear or stethoscope.

Since you must follow the facility’s policies at all times, it is important to pay close attention to the contents of your orientation session. The following tips will help you to ensure you retain everything you learn during your online sessions or in-person classes. Reading through these pointers before you attend your nursing orientation will help you to retain more information while you attend. A periodic review of the rules and standard operating procedures will help you to be successful at your career.

1. Arrive Early

Successful Nursing OrientationAs a new nursing employee, it is always important to be on time. Be sure to check the start time for your first day of orientation and then plan to arrive at least a few minutes early. It is especially important to be prompt if you are visiting a new building or entering a new facility. Consider that it may take longer than expected for you to find a place to park or walk to the meeting site. By arriving early, you will show your supervisor that you take your role seriously and that you are ready to get started.

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If your instructor or supervisor arrives before orientation starts, introduce yourself. A formal introduction helps to make a good first impression, especially as a new professional in the nursing field. It is also helpful to make a connection just in case you have questions or need advice in the future. The relationship with your boss may also be the first one you make at your new clinic or hospital, which is why it is essential to begin promptly and positively.

2. Be Prepared with the Right Nursing Supplies

Check your orientation checklist as soon as you get it. You may need nursing supplies to get started. Sometimes, the best items and nursing gear are found online. A few days’ notice can help to ensure you get everything you need. In most cases, you will need to wear your scrub uniform and nursing shoes. You will also need a stethoscope, as well as a medical bag to carry your devices and documents.

Additional helpful items include a penlight and a storage clipboard. You may also benefit from a nursing watch with a second hand. Other popular nursing supplies that you should consider buying before orientation include a badge holder or lanyard, protective gear like eyewear and a few scrub caps.

3. Take Notes

As you go through orientation, you may have questions about the rules or policies the facility has for the nursing staff. You may also want to clarify reporting procedures or who to contact if you need something in the future. Take notes regarding each of your questions and then plan to follow up after the orientation session. Your notes may include contact information, like your orientation leader’s email or your supervisor’s office number.

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Many hospitals will require nurses to take a test or quiz after the orientation session. This helps supervisors ensure that their employees understand how to do their job, document important information, and learn how to care for patients. Taking careful notes and highlighting sections of text will help you to remember key information before the exam.

4. Stay Organized

Being on time, taking notes and having the right office supplies will help you to stay organized. A folder, briefcase or storage bag can help you to keep your writing utensils, notebooks or orientation papers in the right spot. Keep these items away from your personal gear, such as your smartphone, wallet, or snacks. This will help you to locate the right items easier and faster.

If your sessions last for more than one day, double-check that you are to arrive the same time the next day. You should also find out if you will be in the same room for the rest of your sessions. Write down any changes on your smartphone or in your nurse’s notebook. If your orientation is at a different time than your typical nursing shift, be sure to let loved ones know about the changes as soon as you can.

Make the Most of Your Nursing Orientation

Nursing orientation will be full of information, but it is also an essential part of getting used to your new role. Since every hospital and practice is different, it is an excellent idea to pay close attention to your supervisor’s lectures or the facility’s learning videos. While you are sure to have a lot of questions, this is normal. It may take a little time to remember all of the rules and policies of the facility. If you arrive on time and stay focused throughout your orientation, your supervisor will be glad to help you through your first few weeks. Soon, you will be a pro at your workplace’s software and patient procedures.

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Deborah Swanson
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