10 Survival Tips for Nurse Orientation

Have you heard of the high turnover rates for new grads? How awful would it be to go through a 12 week nurse orientation, go out on your own, and realize after all that training, that it is not for you. Quitting your first nursing job is not an ego booster. It hurts you and the department who paid you to train.

How can we change that? Hospitals across the Nation are looking at ways to revamp their nursing orientations to retain nurse, but you can help as the new nurse.

How to get the best orientation


  • Read a book –  Your orientation is not the only place you need to keep learning. Keep your nursing school book of whatever specialty you are focusing by your bed at night. Anything you came across that day that you didn’t understand, look it up. Nowadays, you can always Google it and inform yourself even more with scholarly resources.
  • Prove you know it –  Orientation is the time to perfect your skills and learn new ones. You have someone monitoring you now, so perform! Lacking at IV skills? Start every IV in the unit that day with your preceptor, and by the end, you will be the one they will call!
  • Don’t be cocky –  Simple. We all know you went through nursing school, no need to talk about how smart you are. Put it to use. Those who are book smart, are not always the best in the clinical setting. Take it in, but show you know it through your work, not through your mouth.
  • Don’t fake it –  On the other hand, if you don’t know something, ASK! Even if you already learned it once. Your preceptor knows you are taking in so much information, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • “New preceptor, please”- This is one of the hardest things to deal with. Are you and your preceptor not a good fit? You need to be the one to act. Talk to your unit director to possibly switch you to someone like you. This orientation needs to train you, don’t let your preceptor make you a bad nurse.
  • Being overwhelmed is normal. – Every nurse will tell you they were overwhelmed in the beginning of their orientation. We expect it. If we covered way too much for your brain to take in anything else that day, stop the preceptor and ask to focus on one thing.
  • You will mess up. – Believe it or not, you’re human. You will mess up, not only in orientation, but in nursing generally. Don’t be afraid, you have someone by your side at this time. Again, never feel stupid for asking questions to do something right.
  • Give feedback –  Orientation processes can always grow and change. Preceptors and Directors of your unit need feedback on what works, and what doesn’t work. Help them create the best orientation for all nurses. Afterall, they will be your colleagues after their orientation.
  • Weekly Meetings –  Make sure your weekly meetings with your preceptor and director/educator are not overlooked. You need to hear constructive criticism and be able to focus on what is working, and what is not working.
  • Be ready to work –  Come to work prepared, even if it is a little early in the shift. Find out your assignment and prepare for your day. Impress your preceptor with our excitement to work on the unit.


With these tips, you are bound to succeed through your orientation and career. Remember to acknowledge the new nurses in your unit and care for them. We know the feeling of “nurses eating their young”. Change that perception to embrace everyone who chose this caring profession.