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4 tools to tailor onboarding

Publish Date: 9/11/2013

Two experts offer tips for implementation

The trick with successful onboarding is to swiftly assess the strengths and weaknesses of a new hire and tailor education to fill the gaps.


“All orientation is about individual needs, whether your new hire is a novice or an experienced perioperative nurse,” stresses Charlotte Guglielmi, BSN, MA, RN, CNOR, Perioperative Nurse Specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

She says tailoring individual needs is a challenge in any practice setting because even experienced new hires have knowledge gaps that need to be identified and developed. “The economics of health care are forcing every OR to work lean. Preceptors are teaching when they are caring, so efficient onboarding is a must,” Guglielmi notes.

Having onboarding tools that work is critical because new hires must learn a tremendous amount of policy, procedure, mandatory compliance requirements and facility-specific information, in addition to showing knowledge in safe perioperative practice,” according to Paula Graling, DNP, RN, CNOR, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Department of Surgery at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus in Falls Church, Va.

Graling adds, “It’s truly a balance of getting new hires productive without pushing too early.”

The right tools for the job
New onboarding assessments for Medication Safety (Adult) and Recommended Practices are the latest in AORN’s collection of comprehensive onboarding tools designed to address these needs and improve the onboarding process.

Guglielmi and Graling share tips for implementing these onboarding resources in the practice setting:

Tool 1: New Medication Safety (Adult) and Recommended Practices Assessments
These new online assessments are designed to help educators assess new hires with perioperative experience by identifying gaps in knowledge around medication safety for adult patients and AORN practice recommendations. The assessments link back to related resources so identified knowledge gaps can be eliminated. The assessments also can be used when a registered nurse traveler is accepted to work in the OR.

Implementation tips: Guglielmi says the comprehensive subject matter covered in these assessments provides excellent information for educators to use as a whole or in part to select questions that are most relevant to the practice setting. She suggests educators may prefer to use the assessments after a new hire has a chance to review medication safety and recommended practices resources.

Tool 2: Periop 101
This online program is used by educators to educate novice perioperative nurses. It includes 25 learning modules with reading and suggested videos from AORN's Perioperative Nursing Video Library. Individual modules adapted from Periop 101 courses, such as a module on laser safety are also available for purchase.

Implementation tips: Graling suggests educators and preceptors use Periop 101 to not only walk a new nurse through learning skills, but also to teach validation and focus on how the information in Periop 101 morphs with best practices and institutional policy and tradition.

Tool 3: Perioperative Orientation Resources
Tools in this resource address orientation topics such as orientation guidelines, preceptor selection and retention strategies. This resource collection was designed to guide educators and managers to apply AORN’s orientation guidelines by building on the scope of Periop 101 to establishes a baseline for competency development and assessment.


Implementation tips: Guglielmi suggests these orientation resources be used by educators, in collaboration with perioperative leaders to strategize both short-term and long-term strategies around recruiting, orienting and retaining high performing nurses. For example, she notes how the preceptor selection tool helps to select a preceptor with the right skills to support successful onboarding.

Tool 4: Recommended Practices Implementation Articles in AORN Journal
These articles published in AORN Journal outline key information needed for perioperative leaders and educators to connect standards with execution in order to implement AORN recommended practices.

Implementation tips: Graling says these implementation articles are used by her educators to shape policies and procedures that are streamlined and succinct. She also says these implementation articles provide a great way to share the evidence-based content in AORN practice recommendations with her nurses.

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