March 04, 2009 | | Comments 5
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Poll taps into time frames for new grad orientation

Orientation is a critical, and often stressful, period for new graduate nurses. Adapting to a new facility, trying to remember everything from nursing school, and applying the knowledge learned in nursing school at the bedside are all tall tasks in themselves. But a supportive work environment, and some time, can ease the transition for new grads.

In a recent QuickPoll featured on in the nursing department, we peered into the matter by asking polltakers how long their facility’s orientation program was for new graduates, selecting one of the following time frames:

  • Less than one month
  • One to three months
  • Four to six months
  • More than six months

Curious about the results? One hundred percent of polltakers work in facilities in which orientation lasts “one to three months.”

Do you think this is an adequate time period for new graduate orientation?

Entry Information

Filed Under: Career developmentUncategorized


Keri Mucci About the Author: Keri is an Editorial Assistant in the nursing group at HCPro, Inc. She helps maintain two Web sites (including this one), edits the journal Strategies for Nurse Managers, writes articles, and conducts market research within the industry. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem (MA) State College in 2007.

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  1. One to three months is inadequate due to the fact that nursing is spending less time in school than before. They need more time to conceptualize book knowledge to hands on and the critical thinking required to accompolish this. They need hands on IV classes, hands on Phlebotomy classes, hands on equipment and supply usage. All of these take time away from the day to day orientation on the unit. Time management is a real issue with the new grad. Time management only comes with practice, and one to three months is not practice time enough. Most new grads do not feel self-confident and self-secure till the end of the first year. Another issue is that hospitals are hiring new grads into specialty areas, like the ICU, and they have not mastered the hands-on, time management of Med-Surg. It is hard to build a knowledge base without the basics. There was a time that all nurses had to weather at least one year of Med-Surg experience before they could even dream of moving to a specialty area. With the nursing shortage, all bets are off and I believe that the patients and the hospitals are suffering because of it.

  2. I am a clinical educator in an Emergency Department. One to three months time is not enough time for a new graduate to formulate the skills needed to survive on their own. I think that we are setting up our new grads to fail when we don’t give them the sufficient amount of time needed for orientation. Recent studies have shown that the number of new grads leaving their first job within the first year is increasing. The studies have also shown that new grads that go through a internship type program that lasts at least six months to a year are more successful.

  3. 1. We need to distinguish between “orientation” for Human Resources and Payroll purposes and the “period of tranision during which a new grad needs extra support.” Those can be 2 different things. A new grad can be “off orientation” and taking his/her own patient assignment and still be receiving extra support from a mentor, attending some special new grad professional development classes, etc. “Orientation” itself is a concept without strict firm boundaries. We should think of it as a process that takes place over time and that has multiple stages. Education and support need not stop just because the new grad moves to the next level of the transition process.

    2. Maybe it is time to make some changes in nursing education — acknowledging that students need more education to be prepared for today’s environment. Perhaps the efforts to produce more new grads quickly (e.g. through accelerated programs, shortened programs, simulations replacing real clinicals, etc.) are doing more harm than good. I live in an area where the number of nursing students has almost doubled in the last 5 years, but the quality of the programs (and the new grads) has noticably decreased. I’d rather see fewer new grads — but have the ones I see be adequately prepared to practice.

  4. I am the director of a hospital education department. We assist in transitioning new grads, accelerated grads and re-entry nurses as well as experienced nurses. Orientation has a standardized format and is customizable to the individual nurse since people learn at different rates and have different educational and support needs.

    The length of time students spend in nursing school, and in experiencing clinical time in nursing school is pretty much the same now as it was 30 years ago when I was attending my ASN training for my RN: two years of pre-requisites, two years of nursing school and two days of clinical per week during that time. In the intervening years, nursing and medicine and hospital care have all changed dramatically, yet the time frame for the education has remained the same.

    We have been participating in a 4 to 5.5 month nursing residency program for the past year and a half, and have found it to be very beneficial for our new grad nurses. They are more supported during their orientation on the units and become competent and confident more quickly. The added plus: our turnover has declined dramatically.

  5. Hi,
    thanks for the your information



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