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November 2011, Volume 41 Number 11 , p 59 - 61


  • Thomas Culley MBA, BSN, RN, CVRN
  • Andrea Babbie MSN, RN-BC
  • Jeanne Clancey MSN, RN, CNRN
  • Kathy Clouse MSN, RN-BC
  • Rosemerry Hines MSN, RN, CMSRN
  • Monica Kraynek MSN, RNC-LRN, RN-BC
  • Josephine Tutro MSEd, BSN, RN-BC
  • Susanne Wittmann MSHSA, BSN, RN


BOTH NEW GRADUATE and experienced nurses face significant challenges when starting a position in a hospital. The purpose of nursing university, a new approach to nursing orientation for newly hired nurses, is to enhance their experience, reduce errors, and improve retention at Western Pennsylvania Hospital, a 500-bed primary acute care facility in Pittsburgh, Pa.Nursing university, which was developed by the authors, improves on existing programs and is outcome driven. It incorporates verbal instruction, visual cues, and tactile experiences. Nursing university was successfully incorporated without incurring additional costs or taking significantly longer than our traditional orientation. This article describes why this new approach was needed and the results of its implementation. First, consider traditional orientation and its pitfalls.In most acute care facilities, nurses attend nursing orientation before the clinical orientation. Nursing orientation introduces nurses to hospital policies and procedures, letting them customize their "toolkit of knowledge" to fit the mission, vision, and values statement and culture of their new organization. Nursing orientation should prepare new nurses for clinical orientation and decrease the learning curve, but many people have difficulty retaining massive amounts of new information.Traditional nursing orientation typically consists of 3 to 5 days of "information overload" in an effort to comply with hospital policies and regulations from the state and regulatory organizations such as The Joint Commission. Nursing orientation also introduces newly hired nurses to the hospital's medical records and information systems. Educators typically include a review of common tasks or skills (such as using glucose meters) requiring proficiencies.We decided to focus our efforts on reducing errors and improving retention by making orientation a better learning experience.Understandably, new nurses often make mistakes that cost time and money

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