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AORN Blog - The Periop Life

5 Ways to Create Connections for New Periop Hires

Two women in scrubs smiling at each other 
October 15, 2021


The fast pace of perioperative care at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City left little time to welcome new hires.

A lack of connection between new hires and evening shift perioperative staff helped nurses identify the need to build stronger team relationships with newly hired operating room registered nurses and certified surgical technologists, according to Kristin Uszak, EdM, BSN, RN-BC.

Uszak and nurse colleague Deisha Guzman, BSN, RN, created a research study to implement a formal welcome for new hires and then survey the new hires to compare impressions of engagement, commitment to the organization, and productivity before and after implementing this social support initiative.

“Whether you have previous OR experience or not, meeting new staff, learning how they work, and meshing different work styles together to care most effectively for the patients can be a challenging process,” Uszak says.

The Messaging Project At-a-Glance

Uszak and Guzman supplied slips of paper to current operating room staff on all shifts. The papers were blank or included writing prompts that were designed to inspire encouraging and welcoming messages that were placed in a decorated jar.

“This jar became a feature of our orientation program’s weekly meetings, during which the orientees picked random notes and read them aloud, sharing the outreach from their soon-to-be colleagues,” Uszak shares. The notes were also used as a springboard for discussion, and the topics were related back to New York-Presbyterian’s core values of respect, empathy, excellence, responsibility, innovation, and teamwork.

Tips for Welcoming New Hires

In the process of initiating the welcome jar project, surveying new hires, and writing up a poster on their work (which has taken third place in AORN’s upcoming conference poster contest), Uszak and Guzman have noted several strategies for optimizing the softer side of onboarding new nurses.

Here are their five tips to welcome new hires successfully:

  1. Always practice respect for everyone in every situation. This includes non-verbal behavior, such as demonstrating patience.
  1. Be clear in communicating with new co-workers to limit confusion and work more efficiently. New teammates may not understand all your instructions or know what equipment or supplies are called (or where to find them), especially if those items go by more than one name.
  1. Be a go-to person for questions and guidance. Helping new staff will make work better for everyone and will factor into an optimal experience for your patients.
  1. Understand that not everyone will work exactly the way you do. If safety is not compromised, allow the new hires to develop their own styles. Avoid overcorrecting or trying to make people do things your way if their methods work.
  1. Remember what it was like to be new and how steep the learning curve can be before making assumptions about new team members. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Find more tools for orienting new perioperative nurses with AORN’s Periop 101: A Core CurriculumTM. Plus, if you’re interested in submitting a poster abstract for AORN Expo 2022 in New Orleans, the deadline to submit is now October 24, 2021.

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