From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, October 18, 2012

Editor’s note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Measuring the effectiveness of your orientation program

Last week I mentioned some tips when identifying priorities for measuring the impact of education on organizational effectiveness. This week I wanted to talk about an example of such measurement.

Orientation is an ongoing concern. Everyone wants it to be shorter and yet provide more extensive preparation. How are you measuring the impact and effectiveness of your orientation program?

Accurate measurement requires the cooperation of the nurse managers in your organization as well as the human resources department. You need to explain how all of you must work together in this effort and that by measuring the success of orientation you can adapt it to enhance recruitment and retention.

Your objective is to offer orientation that increases retention and decreases turnover. You need to have access to retention/turnover data on an ongoing basis. Depending on the size of your organization you may need to review this data as frequently as quarterly or as infrequently as annually. You need to work with managers to review preceptor evaluations of their orientees and orientee evaluations of their preceptors. This will help you to identify strengths and weaknesses in your preceptor education program.

You also need a summary of exit interviews. This might be more difficult to obtain. Nurse managers may be reluctant to share these data. Start by working with those managers with whom you have a good rapport and who are anxious to enhance retention.

And, of course, you need to thoroughly review the orientee evaluations of orientation.

What do you do will all of this information? Look for trends, both positive and negative. Are there certain aspects of orientation that fail to prepare nurses to assume their role as orientees? Are certain preceptors ineffective? Which preceptors are especially effective? What units have the highest turnover? Is turnover linked to specific aspects of precepting or orientation classes? Have you changed some facets of orientation recently? If so, how do these changes impact orientee competency, job performance, and retention?

You want to be able to correlate retention to the orientation and precepting process. For example, suppose, based on data analysis you change some aspects of orientation and preceptor training.

Have these changes helped to increase orientee competency and retention? You should be able to acquire statistical evidence based on retention statistics, job performance evaluations, and orientee evaluations.

Findings from data analysis may also trigger the need for more education. Is bullying a problem on some units that leads to turnover? Are some aspects of patient care not adequately covered in orientation or by preceptors?

These are just some of the questions that can help you to measure the impact of orientation education activities on retention, a factor that is critical to all organizations.

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