Maintaining a fully staffed team of CNAs can be a challenge. Let’s say you’re short staffed and rushing to fill those job vacancies. You take the time to advertise for CNAs, interview prospective employees and complete the entire hiring process. You’re tempted to get those new CNAs on the schedule as soon as possible. However, the best thing you can do to make sure that both time and money haven’t been wasted is to orient your new nursing assistants.
Nurse aides have the least amount of pre-employment training of any other clinical employee. Your CNAs may come to you with only weeks of clinical schooling. As a result, they require—and deserve—an extensive introduction to their jobs.
A thorough orientation has many benefits—for your workplace, your new employee and you. These benefits include:
- Reduced anxiety. By providing new employees with specific guidelines, an orientation helps them know what is expected of them from day one.
- Increased job satisfaction. Orientation helps ensure that new employees are well-prepared to perform their assigned duties instead of feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and ready to leave!
- Time savings for supervisors and coworkers. A thorough orientation makes new employees self-sufficient sooner—so they don’t pull you and your other aides away from your own jobs to answer questions or provide constant assistance.
- An improved employee retention rate. Across the nation, turnover of nursing assistants costs healthcare organizations more than $4 billion every year! However, studies have shown that organizations with a comprehensive orientation can expect to reduce their turnover rate by 50% within two years.
So, what should a CNA orientation program include? Here are some suggestions that have been shown to get nursing assistants off to a good start:
- Working as a Nursing Assistant. Promote professionalism by providing your aides with the tools they need to be team players. Review their job description with them, step by step, and discuss workplace policies on chain of command and delegation.
- Supporting Patient Rights. Emphasize the importance of patient rights, especially confidentiality—the cornerstone of the relationship between healthcare workers and their clients. Help your CNAs understand advance directives and the signs and symptoms of abuse.
- Infection Control. Because nosocomial infections continue to be the most common cause of medical errors, new employees benefit from a review of handwashing protocol, standard precautions and drug-resistant infections.
- Client Care Tips. Nursing assistants, especially those who are “new grads”, can become overwhelmed quickly by the demands of client care. If you arm them with practical tips that focus on personal care, nutrition and client safety, their on-the-job confidence will soar.
- Self Care. By spending orientation time on employee wellness, you’ll show your new aides that you care about them as people and recognize that they are your greatest resource. If you ignore this crucial area, you run the risk of developing stressed-out, disgruntled CNAs within a matter of months.
- Providing Quality Care. By focusing on customer service, quality improvement and medical error prevention, you’ll instill a desire for excellence among your new CNAs.
- Writing It All Down. As every nurse knows, when it comes to client care, if you don’t write it down, you didn’t do it. Devoting time to proper documentation (and/or oral reporting) is essential for every new employee.
Whew…that’s a lot of information. Who has time to put together an orientation program like that? The good news is that you don’t have to. Instead of reinventing the wheel, check around for companies that offer an orientation course for nursing assistants. For example, take a look at our comprehensive CNA Orientation Program: Getting Off to a Good Start. Not only does it provide your new CNAs with a top-notch orientation, it also gives them a whopping six hours of inservice credit!
Remember…by developing and retaining top-notch CNAs, you’ll recoup the money you spend on quality orientation materials in no time.