After an extensive job search, you have finally landed that coveted healthcare position as a nurse, physician, technologist, or another role – congratulations! But now the real work begins as you begin successfully onboarding into your new healthcare organization.
Those early days of establishing your role and presence in a new work environment remain critical for positioning yourself for success. Use the 10 tips below to confidently tackle the transition to your new healthcare job.
Tips When Starting Your New Healthcare Job
1. Get a Head Start on Systems and Tools
In healthcare’s fast-paced settings, learning systems, and equipment on the fly prove extremely challenging. Get proactive with these preparatory steps:
- Request logins to start exploring the EHR system and protocols a few weeks prior to your start date if possible
- Thoroughly study all provided training materials and videos detailing major platforms and workflows
- Make a list of questions and process nuances you want to clarify during onboarding
- Review equipment operating guides and instructions ahead of hands-on practice sessions
This test drive enables building some initial fluency and familiarity before patient volumes and high-stress demands intensify. Having a basic grasp of systems makes asking good questions easier
Advanced analytics can also help model the effect of innovative ideas like part-time shift pools for nurses with young children. Testing different scenarios allows hospitals to optimize their workforce planning strategy before committing resources. This data-driven approach equips them to adapt to a rapidly changing healthcare landscape.
2. Shadow Experienced Colleagues
While training manuals and videos offer helpful HR-sanctioned content, nothing beats job shadowing one or more seasoned employees. Listen closely as they explain typical patient care journeys, tricky judgment tradeoffs, preferences of frequent patient populations, and little productivity tricks that get them through each shift.
Take detailed notes or use a voice recorder app on your phone to capture relevant tidbits you want to emulate later. Revisiting these will trigger helpful reminders once you’re working solo.
Later when inevitable challenges or conflicts emerge, go back to these early mentors to help troubleshoot since they’ve directly observed you in action and offered feedback.
3. Document as You Go
In entirely new and fast-paced surroundings with a daily influx of new instructions, policies, names, and procedures thrown at you, some pertinent particulars inevitably fall through the mental cracks.
Carry a pocket notebook, journal app, or voice recorder everywhere for those first several weeks. Capture specifics in real-time like:
- Key contacts across functions or departments
- Step-by-step workflows in electronic systems and record-keeping
- Equipment operation checklists
- Must-know acronyms and abbreviations
- Best practices
- Meeting takeaways or follow-ups
- Questions you need to ask later
These real-time cliff notes will grow into an invaluable personalized system reference guide so you don’t need to constantly bug coworkers to repeat things.
4. Introduce Yourself Broadly
While focusing narrowly on just the daily responsibilities within your specific role makes sense initially, always remember you operate within an expansive, interdependent healthcare ecosystem. From physicians to technicians to floor nurses to cleaning staff to cafeteria cooks – every single person impacts collective patient care quality and experience.
So take time during those first couple weeks to intentionally roam hospital floors or departments and meet peers in patient registration, labs, imaging, diagnostics, environmental services, kitchen, security, and adjacent specialty areas. Even quick drive-by introductions to put names to faces lay the groundwork for smoother coordination, transfers, and interactions later when you inevitably intersect over patient needs and schedules.
And you’ll likely need allies across the spectrum of functions during especially chaotic or stressful crunch times. The support of an empathetic cleaning technician you befriended can make all the difference on a tough shift!
5. Clarify Evaluation Metrics and Expectations
Every healthcare employer has somewhat different standards and measures for assessing onboarding success over your initial 90-day ramp up period. So understand clearly upfront exactly how your direct manager will formally and informally evaluate your progress integrating into the organization and independent job performance.
Schedule a meeting focused specifically on this within the first two weeks if they don’t voluntarily offer up details. Key clarifying questions to proactively ask:
- Which metrics carry the greatest weight in my role? Revenue, productivity, accuracy, member satisfaction surveys?
- How often will my performance be formally assessed? Who else provides input to those reviews?
- What specific onboarding requirements do I need to complete in a stated time period?
- Is shadowing other roles expected or optional? Documented where?
- What precise standards or milestones define success in getting through my probationary period?
Without this mutual understanding established early on, you risk falling behind in your new healthcare job if unspoken expectations aren’t met or communicated properly via your direct supervisor.
6. Ask Questions Early, Often…and All Over
It always proves better to risk asking too many questions or repeatedly clarifying nuances upfront rather than staying silent about something critical that bites you down the line when problems erupt.
Actively identify and document several trusted experts and longer-tenured colleagues you can regularly rely on as guides while navigating policies, situations, or medical decision scenarios you haven’t faced before. They will serve as invaluable resources during those first few months.
Don’t isolate questions to just your manager or trainer since exposing yourself to diversity of thought and department-specific insights enhances learning. Plus overburdening one person breeds resentment.
7. Organize Licensing and Credentialing Details
With extensive education and stacks of paperwork behind you, the temptation proves strong to dump everything into one big unorganized pile of credentials documenting you belong in the healthcare field legally. Don’t fall into this trap!
Get all your relevant licenses, board certifications, insurance details, immunization records, and mandatory training neatly organized rather than fumbling through disarray every time you need to prove qualifications later.
Create a spreadsheet cataloging license numbers, issue/expiration dates, renewal terms, associated organizations, proof documents, mandatory training due with refreshers, and CE requirements. This will simplify supply credential verification details instantly rather than scrambling through paperwork trying to piece together acceptable documents.
Knowing exactly what supplemental items you still need to send staff education offices by name and date also helps streamline fully activating your patient care abilities amidst onboarding checklists. No payment reimbursement delays!
8. Familiarize Yourself with Facilities and Equipment
Most healthcare facilities like hospitals or large group practices span extensive physical footprints housing numerous departments. Yet it’s easy for new hires to remain isolated within limited assigned spaces like a clinic area or single diagnostic imaging room every shift.
Break this silo tendency early by independently walking all floors, departments, and adjacent office buildings even if you don’t expect to routinely work there. Test run available medical equipment models and simulation environments when possible too.
This spatial and hands-on operational awareness substantially builds overall confidence, technical competence, and mini-expert status regardless of where you get pulled later to assist in a pinch. Keep mini maps available for reference.
9. Prioritize Mastering Critical Skills
All healthcare roles demand diverse proficiencies and responsibilities requiring extensive ongoing education. But avoid overloading yourself out the gates trying to evenly build expertise across every competency right away. Realistically this cannot happen overnight.
Instead, intentionally focus first on quickly mastering the handful of bare minimum capabilities and tasks expected right away that substantially impact patient care quality and safety from day one. For example, accurately using order entry systems, administering certain injections precisely, or flawless sterile techniques.
Master these baseline competencies with more experienced colleagues checking your work before worrying about acquiring more advanced specialized medical knowledge that honestly takes months and years to fully develop anyway. Grow the critical skill foundations now to support later expertise.
10. Define Short and Long-Term Milestones
Finally, outline specific tangible quick wins and milestones you want to achieve on 30/60/90-day intervals as well as a broader professional development vision expanding the first year and beyond for your new healthcare job.
Short-term look for early metrics showcasing competence and positive team impact like:
- Patient satisfaction survey scores
- Patient volumes / Procedures logged
- Accuracy and efficiency output benchmarks
- Error rates on quality audits
Mapping these incremental building blocks of onboarding success will provide encouraging reinforcement amidst steep learning curves as you continually expand capabilities over the years through various healthcare roles.