Ask the nursing expert: What orientation advice do you have for a new DON?

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Ask the nursing expert
Ask the nursing expert
Q: As a new director of nursing at a facility, how would you suggest that I structure my orientation for the first couple of weeks?

A: The bigger companies have well-structured orientation schedules for their new DONs that you can emulate if you're not at one of them.

Within the facility, you may want to start with scheduling staff meetings on all three shifts your first two weeks. Take some time prior to the meetings to jot down your most critical expectations for the department. Examples might include: dress code, professional attitude, punctuality, teamwork, customer service skills and other areas you feel passionate about.

Let them know how to get in touch with you, what your hours will be, etc. Schedule a separate meeting with your nursing leadership team to discuss the on-call schedule, their hours, dress code (professionalism and attitude), criteria for notification of the DON after hours; and whether there is anything urgent you need to address.

Ask about the facility “meetings schedule” (UR, QA, management meetings, clinical meetings, etc.). Also ask to review policies and procedures related to change in condition, falls, pain management, admission process, weights and any other areas you feel you need to review sooner than later.

Observe processes, ask questions, ask for clarification when confused, and above all else, begin to develop an atmosphere of trust and fairness. Everything else will come naturally!