Ask an expert: How can orientation costs be cut without losing valuable content?

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 13, 2009

This week, Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN, discusses how to calculate the cost of an orientation and make money-saving decisions.

Q: What are expenses we should consider when trying to cut orientation costs without losing educational value?

A: First you must determine what your orientation actually costs. By working with the human resources department, you should be able to gather data about your current program. You should consider: actual time spent delivering orientation, time spent interacting with managers, preceptors, human resources, and orientees and time spent preparing educational materials for orientation, including clerical assistance. You must also consider the cost of office supplies and travel costs.

Once you have determined your costs, the next step is cost analysis. Are there areas that are needlessly expensive? Can you reduce some of the paperwork or photocopying or even eliminate some facets of orientation? For example, are there “guest speakers” who rarely show up or who provide nonessential information? Look at costs related to “nice to know” versus “need to know” information. There are so many essential needs that it makes no sense to spend money on orientation components that are nonessential.
Here are some questions to get started:

  • Is it possible to substitute computer-based learning for some instruction and eliminate a portion of the endless stream of paperwork?
  • Can you use email instead of some paperwork exercises?
  • When you purchase DVDs, tracking systems, or other resources, are revisions and updates part of the purchase package? If not, do you purchase resources that have a reasonable shelf life? 

It is also important to look at staff development and see if orientation overlaps with mandatory training and continuing education activities.

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