Onboarding RNs: 3 Ways to Bring New Hires Up to Speed

Need tips on onboarding RNs quickly?

When we live in a time where it is difficult to know what tomorrow will bring, taking care of our mindset may be the most valuable asset to develop.  Why? Because it helps us build resilience and see past the challenges so we can become problem solvers. Uncertain times call for innovative ways to manage recruiting and onboarding RNs.

Tanya Piazza, MSN/INF, MSN/Ed, RN, PHN, ENPC, TNCC, the RN residency program manager in the education and training department at Adventist Health White Memorial in Los Angeles, shared key onboarding tips with Nurse.com to help bring new hires up to speed quickly.

Expand e-learning, education

For starters, being mindful of our communication efforts goes a long way.  Allocate resources that can keep staff in the loop with timely information, Piazza said. And don’t just focus on what you communicate, but also how you communicate.

No doubt, some days will look and feel better than others, but we still have a choice in how we show up and respond, according to Piazza.  When it comes to training and education for nurses, there is an opportunity to investigate what nurses really need at this time.

  • “As healthcare workers and educators, we have a choice to fold or to rise,” she said. “I say let’s continue to rise and tap into our creative side. It is a great time to assess the intent and impact of education provided to nurses during onboarding.”

To deliver good training and information sharing, this can be accomplished with e-learning and the use of apps and platforms, Piazza said.  Befriending technology can help many organizations bridge unforeseen communication gaps.

Admittedly, such methods might lack in human connection or hamper new hires from asking questions. But technology also provides us with workarounds, according to Piazza.

“Many of our hospital organizations have business applications that can be utilized for nursing onboarding,” she said. “Microsoft Teams is a great resource for allowing us to see participants, promote discussion and provide screen sharing to assist with virtual education.”

When scheduling virtual meetings with apps (such as Zoom, Skype or Uber Conference), Piazza suggests using the record feature to ease scheduling conflicts with new hires. This allows nurses access to the material at a later date, which Piazza said helps improve successful onboarding.

“Using the (record) feature allows for flexibility of schedules,” she said.

Even if you were in attendance at the original meeting or training, using the playback feature from recordings brings more value. Hearing it once is good, but sometimes hearing information twice has even greater impact.

“Additionally, I have started to use the feature of recording for playback in (training) simulations,” Piazza said. “It is a great, inexpensive way to promote debriefing efforts.”

Virtual employee orientations

For newly hired nurses, it is standard that regulatory education happens in the first 30 days of hire, she said.

“The first day typically should include infection control, human resources information and benefits, security and safety codes,” Piazza said.

Traditionally, face-to-face orientation spans three to five days. Piazza has recently found that switching from live orientation to virtual saves time administratively and gives nurses a head start in patient care.

“Ideally (orientation) can be covered in eight hours of virtual education,” she said. “Using this (virtual) approach permits the employee to start working on the unit earlier than the typical three-to-five day orientation process.”

Keep in mind that training delivery must have some flexibility built into the nurse onboarding process. Virtual training won’t solve everything, and some aspects might require human interaction.

“It is often the thought that validation on basic skills such as IV insertion or IV pump use is validated through the education department,” Piazza said. “During these times, this validation can occur at the bedside with the preceptor checking the new employee off.”


Lessons learned from the data trail

Living in the information age means many facilities probably have more data than they know what to do with. To make improvements that help support recruiting and onboarding nurses, Piazza suggests delving into the treasure trove of data to understand the story it tells.

“As nursing educators, we want to emphasize things that are common pitfalls based on data trends we currently see on the units,” she said.

Information from data trending reports can be useful in developing FAQs that highlight your organization’s focus or areas of high liability, according to Piazza.

To further engage the employee, she suggested creating an online scavenger hunt where new hires can read a question and look for the policies and procedures that answer it.

“Have a list of hot topics and an area where the new employee can write the policy name and/or ID number to demonstrate validation that the employee has completed the task along with an attestation statement of acknowledgement as well,” Piazza said.

She also notes that training increments can take place in four-hour segments, instead of the traditional eight-hour format.

This permits the new employee to work full time with three 12-hour shifts in a week, then four hours of education, which decreases overtime and allows nurses to start on the unit earlier, she said.