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'Onboard' New Nurses to Prevent Them from Jumping Ship

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, September 7, 2010

Last week, I wrote about the value of nurse residency programs, which provide a year-long training period for new nurses. These programs are valuable, but organizations need experienced preceptors and mentors guiding new nurses from day one.

But too many nurses are assigned to become preceptors without adequate training. They are competent nurses and a year or two out of school, so it's assumed they will relate to new grads and that is about all that's needed. Unless they receive training in the phases of reality shock, what new graduates need, how to role model behavior and expectations, and how to provide feedback and criticism, they are being set up to fail.

Preceptors and mentors are a crucial part of the onboarding process. They have the power and influence to help new nurses plot the right course to become committed, successful employees. To help newer nurses get with the program, preceptors need to be adequately trained and fully 'onboard' themselves.

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at
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