Getting the Most Out of Your New Hire Orientation

new hire doctor pic

Getting your first job as a respiratory therapist is exciting — but a little daunting too. Dana Evans, MHA, RRT, RRT-NPS, respiratory care director at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL, has 11 great tips for new grads getting ready for their first day of new hire orientation.

Dana evans
  1. Ask questions. Unless you are lucky enough to have a preceptor who is also a mind reader, they will not automatically know where you need help or more explanation. You will need to ask questions in order to get the most out of your time in orientation. On a side note: Do not act like you know everything. The leader did not hire you because you are an expert — they hired you because of your potential to one day become one.
  2. Jump at every opportunity to learn throughout your shift. Just because you have “already been checked off” on an item or skill does not mean you are the expert on it (see above). Use this time to practice and get as much experience as you can.
  3. Know who your resources are. Who are the “go to” therapists that will most be able to answer your questions and provide guidance? Obviously, your preceptor and the department educator can fill this role. I promise there are many others that can fill this role as well, including charge therapists, other recent graduates, and those who generally enjoy teaching.
  4. Speak up. Not unlike when you were a student, you will find that some preceptors are better teachers than others. Do not be afraid to speak to your leader if you feel that a preceptor is not meeting your needs. Remember, you will need to be able to work with this person in the future; be respectful even if you do not “click” with them.
  5. It is normal for new grads to be nervous when speaking with physicians. Use this time to speak with MDs and make care recommendations as much as possible. This is a great opportunity to practice what you will say with your preceptor before speaking with the physician.
  6. Do not pick up bad habits. If you see someone taking shortcuts or performing care in a way that is in conflict with what you have learned, talk to a leader or the department educator. As my father used to say to me, “If all of your friends jump off a bridge, does that mean you have to follow them?”
  7. Ask for feedback. Many preceptors struggle to give effective feedback. You can make it easier for them by asking questions about your performance. When you have completed a new task, be brave enough to ask, “How did that go?” or “Would you have done anything differently?”
  8. Make sure you read through key policies and procedures (vacation time, sick calls, dress code, etc.). Beyond knowing how to care for patients, you need to know how to work in the department.
  9. Remain focused on the patient. While learning, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and focus only on tasks, rather than patients. Be sure to treat every patient like you would want your family to be treated. If the care isn’t good enough for your mother, father, sister, brother, etc., then it isn’t good enough for anyone.
  10. Be patient with yourself. It is normal to be nervous and question what you know. In fact, I often tell new grads, “If you aren’t a little scared, then I’m a little scared for your patients.” In my experience, new graduates are competent long before they are comfortable. Take a deep breath, ask questions, and keep going!
  11. Learning is a life-long journey. Be prepared to keep learning LONG after orientation is complete.