6 Orientation Program Best Practices for Medical Staff

Senior Director of Marketing

Members of the medical staff are the people who embody your healthcare organization’s mission and values. Whether employed or privileged, they must understand how those values are lived out in your organization to provide the best care possible.

A strong onboarding process can help make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them, and medical staff services can take the lead.  “Medical staff services should oversee the process of orienting medical staff to a new employer,” says Kate McEachern, Director of Human Resources for Marathon Health. The department can provide the specialized orientation medical staff need to fully embrace the organization’s values and mission, and how they can help uphold them.

Here are a few medical staff orientation best practices.

Start Early

Don’t wait until a medical staff member’s first day to start onboarding. Once a hiring decision has been made and accepted, the organization should reach out to the new employee and start getting them up to speed, experts say. This early connection can help reaffirm the employee’s decision to join the organization.

“The orientation process should begin prior to the employee’s first day of the job,” says Kristy Taylor, founder of Heka Healthcare Consulting. “They should be contacted by their direct supervisor, who will provide them with a warm welcome and insight into the day-to-day operations of the business and initial expectations.”

Put Your Values into Action

Healthcare organizations are driven by their mission and values, and your medical staff is on the front line of putting those values into action. Orientation for healthcare providers should focus heavily on values and how they integrate with patient care, says Andrew Randazzo, Director of Prime Medical Training.

His organization uses a checklist to ensure those values are baked into every step. “We have a line item to go over our core values and explain what each of those looks like in our company,” Randazzo says. “As an example, ‘integrity’ is a popular core value, but it's lived out differently from business to business. We have seven core values, but the document is a full page that describes what each core value means to us and how we live it out.” Employees sign the checklist, stating that they understand and are committed to them, which provides accountability down the road, he says.

Take It In Stages

Learning the ropes at a healthcare organization can be overwhelming, and new medical staff members may shut down if they feel overwhelmed. Establishing different phases of orientation can help get them up to speed without providing too much information at once, says Allen Santos, Director of COPE Health Solutions.

Santos says his organization advises giving all new employees a one-page plan of expectations, whether they’re new graduates or seasoned professionals. These have information about essential processes that everyone needs to know. “In two to three weeks, set aside time for a second round of orientation, this time focusing on more department-level activities,” he says.

Highlight the ‘Why’

Connecting new medical staff members’ work to real outcomes can help them buy into the way you do things. This is especially important if you have any processes unique to your organization; new medical staff members will want to know why you ask them to do things a certain way.

“Offer video or in-person testimonials from patients who have benefited from some of the policies you are teaching about,” says Jennifer FitzPatrick, founder of Jenerations Health Education, which helps healthcare professionals and caregivers reduce stress. “When the staff understand why an organization wants them to do something a certain way, there is more buy-in.”

Provide a Mentor

Mentoring is a great way to get medical staff members up to speed in their new positions, experts say. Pairing new staff members with veteran providers can help them learn the ropes more quickly.

“This person can also serve as a go-to source for any questions that the new employee may have if the direct supervisor is not immediately available,” Taylor says.

Be Consistent

Healthcare relies on consistency, so incorporate that into your own orientation. Technology can help ensure everyone is on the same page. “I recommend automating as many of the training tasks as possible through the use of a good learning-management system,” Taylor says. “Also, having the right software will allow the employee to have some flexibility as to how they navigate the orientation process, because it is important to acknowledge that these individuals will have a learning curve as they learn the new processes.”

Orienting medical staff members properly is vital to your healthcare organization’s success. Ensure you have a strong process in place and provide consistent information through a variety of sources to bring them on board.

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