Nurse Onboarding: How To Do It Properly?

Andjelka Prvulovic
Last update on:
April 18, 2024 2:37 AM
Published on:

As a healthcare provider, you know how important it is to have a strong nursing staff. But how do you ensure that all of the nurses on your team are trained and ready to go?

It's essential to provide new nurses with the proper onboarding so they can hit the ground running confidently and efficiently. And it's equally important for experienced nurses to keep up their skills and knowledge.

This blog post will tell you everything you need about nurse onboarding and training and how to do it properly.

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What is Nurse Onboarding?

We often discuss the importance of nurse onboarding, but what exactly is it?

Nurse onboarding refers to a process by which nurses are welcomed into their new role, given information about expectations and protocols, and introduced to key people who will play important roles in their work (such as other co-workers).

At the same time, the nurse onboarding process helps healthcare organizations get the most out of their new hires by providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

Nurse onboarding can include orientations, introductions to key staff members, and training sessions. It can be anything from providing a tour around the hospital or organization, bringing them coffee when they first arrive for orientation, or allowing them to shadow other nurses who have been on staff longer. 

The purpose of nurse onboarding is to ensure that new hires can start working without feeling confused or overwhelmed by the new working environment. This allows them to begin contributing as soon as possible, which will help your organization run more smoothly overall and ensure patient care remains high quality throughout the entire process.

Why Is Nurse Onboarding So Vital?

High nurse turnover is a burning pain point in the healthcare industry.

The national average nurse turnover rate varies between 8.8 % and 37.0%, depending on geographic location and specialty. 

A report examining labor trends in 2020 found that 24% of all hired nurses leave their work within one year. Considering that a registered nurse turnover costs from $22,000 to $64,000, many providers are losing their nurses and financial resources at an unsustainable rate.

Nurse onboarding isn't just about getting your new nurses set up with the tools they need to do their job. It's also a chance for you to help them feel comfortable in their new role, which is vital because it increases the likelihood that they'll stay in it for the long haul. A structured onboarding process and investing in your nurses can boost their retention and save your agency's resources.

A nurse who feels comfortable with their work environment is more likely to stay in the role.

You can check out our articles in the blog section to better understand the reasons behind high nurse turnover rates and learn how to retain your nursing staff

Nurse Onboarding Best Practices

So now that we have a better understanding of nurse onboarding and its importance, we can move on to the more actionable part of the article and discuss the best practices.

Make Your Nurses Feel Welcomed

From the first day they arrive to work, you need to make your nurses feel welcomed and supported. 

You can make a great first impression on your new nurse, so don't waste it. 

Provide them with a copy of the nurse onboarding checklist, and for starters, introduce them to other team members so they can get acclimated to everyone else working there.

The next step is to ensure your nurse onboarding is set up so that new hires can ask questions of the right people.

  • Introduce them to their manager.
  • Introduce them to their peers.
  • If working in a hospital, Introduce them to other nurses working with them on the floor, such as preceptors or nurse educators.
  • Introduce them to whoever will be providing supplies and equipment (and let it be known that all requests made through this person are in line with hospital policies).

Also, ensure that new nurses are ready to start on their first day by providing them with all necessary equipment, including scrubs, lab coats, and uniforms for shifts outside work.

Identify Gaps In Skills And Knowledge

The high nurse turnover rates pressure health providers to get new nurses up to speed quickly and thoroughly while ensuring they are prepared to provide quality care. 

By evaluating each new nurse's level of knowledge and skills, you can identify their soft spots and gaps. For these purposes, you can ask novice nurses to complete a self-assessment of skills and experience to guide you on what you should focus on during their onboarding.

For example, nurses with no previous experience providing home health care might not have the information on Electronic Visit Verification and the need to document their visits properly. A home health care provider would need to address this gap immediately.

One of the best ways to train new nurses is with practice exercises. These exercises should be designed specifically for new nurses to learn how to handle everyday situations they might encounter in the future. For example, if you're training someone on how to administer an IV drip, provide them with a scenario where they need one to practice on their own before trying it out on actual patients.

Another way of onboarding new nurses is through structured orientation programs. This could include classroom instruction with videos or PowerPoint presentations or even roleplaying scenarios where new hires pretend-operate on each other while learning how to perform CPR or blood transfusions properly.

Make sure that your newly hired nurse has access to any online resources they may need to do their job well. Computer training videos or other learning materials are usually available through an HR portal or intranet site. If not, you should consider ordering some educational books so that they can access these resources whenever needed.

Introduce Them To The Policies

From their very first day, your newly hired nurses would like to know your expectations regarding their roles. During nurse onboarding, one of your main tasks as an employer is to inform them about all agency policies and procedures they must follow.

Furthermore, you must ensure that the nurses have received, read, and accepted these guidelines. This way, you will be able to grant your clients uniform,  high-quality care and protect your agency from liability.

Besides policies and practices related to providing health care, there are numerous other procedures new nurses need to get acquainted with during the nurse onboarding process.

Scheduling shifts, attendance, tracking hours and PTO, EVV, and mileage reimbursement are all essential processes your new nurse needs to comprehend and apply in their everyday work.

Luckily, using modern GPS employee trackers, you can make these processes run smoothly and impose no extra burden on your nurses. This way, they can focus on what's important - providing care to your clients.

If you're still working on your policies, you can check out the resources Timeero offers for some ideas:

Support Nurses During Their Initial Shifts

Nurses are like any other new employee - they will have numerous questions about the job, their organization, and the culture. 

If you make yourself available for this first week or month, nurses are more likely to ask you questions when they come up instead of asking colleagues who might not know as much or be able to provide as accurate an answer.

Ensure there is always someone competent available to answer questions and troubleshoot problems during their initial shifts.

Help Your Nurses Grow

You should use time during nurse onboarding to discuss your new nurse's professional goals. 

Your nurses won't be satisfied if they feel stuck in a dead-end job without the opportunity to improve their skills and grow. 

Discuss the nurses' goals, and help them identify the skills and experience they need to meet them. 

Support your nurses in their professional development by providing educational opportunities and the possibility of career advancement. If your agency has such resources, you can set up a mentorship program and help them gain those skills easier.

Finally, plan a check-in meeting to see how they are progressing toward their goals. 

Always Remember Your Nurses Needs

Compassion fatigue is one of the most common reasons for nurse turnover. During the nurse onboarding, you must ensure that your nurses get a clear message and understand that your agency respects and supports their mental health needs. 

Scheduling nurses' shifts can be challenging. Still, you must avoid straining your staff and encourage them to take advantage of shift flexibility and vacation time to achieve a better work-life balance. ‍

Using Timeero's scheduling feature, your agency can streamline this burdensome task while providing your nurses more visibility and control over their workdays. 

Timeero scheduling feature
Timeero's scheduling feature

Giving your nurses more time off will likely prevent burnout and absenteeism and reduce turnover. The number of days your nurses will spend working will be higher overall.

Easing the Transition to Their New Role

The last part of the nurse onboarding process helps them transit to the role of a trained nurse. 

Your team leader should set clear expectations for the newly hired nurses, so they know what they are responsible for. Setting smart goals and key performance indicators you keep track of can help your nurses visualize quality, success, and productivity. 

You can run regular, monthly, or quarterly performance reviews to evaluate their efforts and help them improve their performance.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Identifying gaps in your nurse onboarding process and making necessary adjustments is important. Ask your nurses for feedback on their onboarding process, to determine if certain processes are not effective. 

You might determine that there is a lack of communication in regard to certain issues, or that some tasks included in nurse onboarding are redundant. You can improve the nurse onboarding by addressing these issues with your team members and making changes where necessary.

How Can Timeero Help You With Nurse Onboarding?

By switching to Timeero - GPS mileage and time tracking solution, you can ensure menial but essential tasks do not overburden your newly hired nurses. 

timeero segmented tracking
Segmented Tracking: View your field nurse’s daily shift activities at a glance.

With a simple app on their phones, they can keep up with the policies and procedures and, among other things, clock in and out of their shifts, track their mileage, and keep track of their schedules or demand time off. The option to add notes about clients' home visits will help them do their jobs better and provide personalized care.

As the software integrates with most common payroll software, they can rest assured they will be paid for every hour worked and properly reimbursed for each mile they drove using their private vehicle. 

Nurse onboarding is crucial to ensuring that your nursing staff is well-equipped to handle their tasks. 

With Timeero to handle all the rest, your newly hired nurses can focus on what they do best - provide your clients with the best possible care.

Discover how Timeero can boost your agency’s efficiency and your nurses’ satisfaction

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Andjelka Prvulovic

Andjelka is a sociologist turned digital marketer. She specializes in creating content for SaaS and software companies. When she’s not researching the most effective employee management techniques, Andjelka loves cooking, reading, and fighting for human rights.

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