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Orientation Programs for Incoming Travel Nurses

One of the big concerns of nurse managers and hospital staffing managers is the length of time it takes to truly orient a new travel nurse into their hospital and unit. This is an understandable concern, if you consider you only have a temporary nurse for basically three months at your unit and if they are there, then most likely the hospital has an immediate need and getting them working as quickly as possible is crucial. The norm seems to be anywhere from a half-day to three days of orientation, whereas a permanent nurse may receive anywhere from a week to two weeks of orientation.

Because they are travel nurses coming to you through a travel nursing company you should be able to trust that the agency has qualified their skills and competency as a nurse, but there are still going to be still simple things like where are your supplies, where is the cafeteria, how is the floor organized, etc. that need ingrained quickly.

Obviously the orientation of a nurse is something that needs a delicate balance of speed and thoroughness, but there are not a lot of resources out there to help you build a quick, but effective orientation plan. Here are some topics to cover with your incoming travel nurse. Tell your travel nurse what they should anticipate:

  • What type of charting you use
  • What the nurse-to-patient ratio is
  • How long orientation is and what it entails
  • Whether there are other travelers on the floor
  • What clinical experience they need in order to
  • be up and running on the unit.
  • Will travelers float, and if so to what areas
  • If there will be required overtime

Orientation programs will never become completely standardized between facilities, but they will always enhance the ability of staff to work as a cohesive unit.

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