Tip of the week: Ensure a successful new resident orientation

Residency Program Insider, June 2, 2009

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When planning resident orientation, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Reduce redundancies and inefficiencies. Don’t be afraid to question the tried, true, and traditional. If you think or receive feedback from residents that some orientation sessions are unhelpful, see if you can eliminate or combine the sessions.
  • Gather information early. The fewer surprises you have leading up and during orientation, the better. E-mail a survey to incoming residents right after the Match asking any questions, such as whether they need ACLS, BLS, Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), or PALS certification. This way, you can provide those who need certification with registration information. On the survey, also ask new residents to indicate any vacation time they already know they will need, and use this information to create schedules for the following year.
  • Eliminate nice-to-know information. There’s no question incoming residents have a lot to learn to get completely up to speed, but that doesn’t mean you have to cover it all during orientation. Only present what your incoming residents need to know to be effective immediately. As you create the orientation schedule, scrutinize each activity, asking whether the information is essential for residents or whether you can cover it later without compromising patient care.
  • Encourage residents to do what you ask. Many programs ask residents to complete online modules, readings, or other tasks, such as picking up lab coats, prior to orientation. Although most new residents will do what you ask because they want to start off on the right foot, providing a little motivation doesn’t hurt. If your institution provides a stipend for participating in orientation, stipulate that residents must also complete any additional pre-orientation activities to receive the payment. If the institution does not provide a stipend, ask the program director/department chair to decide on a consequence if a resident skips orientation, but be sure you follow through. Not following through sends the message that it’s okay for residents not to respond to the program coordinator’s requests, which is not the tone you want to set on day one.
  • Give international medical graduates (IMG) a little extra TLC. As if adjusting to a new culture isn’t difficult enough, IMGs must also navigate how to obtain drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, bank accounts, work visas, and more. If they don’t have these documents, they may not be able to travel to work, get paid, or even start working. Coordinators should set aside a little extra time to help IMGs fill out all of the appropriate paperwork and make them feel welcomed. Consider offering a special orientation session just for the IMGs. Ask faculty members who are originally from other countries to discuss cultural differences and answer any questions they may have.

Today’s tip is from The Complete Residency Program Management Guide, by Ruth Nawotniak, MS, C-TAGME.

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