Orientation tips

Residency Program Insider, June 6, 2006

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Orientation tips

Establish goals to ensure that your new resident orientation runs smoothly. Residents should learn how to function in your institution and acclimate to the hospital and community.

When creating an orientation schedule, first analyze information from trainee feedback. Ask what information residents wish they had gotten and what types of methods trainees did or did not enjoy from the previous year. Consider conducting a needs assessment survey for existing residents. Differentiate program-specific information from institution-specific information, and be aware of time, space, and financial restrictions.

In addition to introducing residents to their colleagues and outlining key policies and procedures of the hospital, sessions on fatigue education and stress management are effective for trainees from every specialty. Don't forget to include information technology training in addition to other training sessions. In addition to covering key compliance elements (e.g. HIPAA, safety, etc.), it is important to include activities that build a sense of community and provide residents with opportunities to socialize. Consider conducting an orientation for families, including information about life insurance and health benefits. One way to convey useful information is by handing out documentation such as a "survival skills" handbook, containing community and institution maps, contacts, and resources.

Don't hesitate to build orientation content around the ACGME's six core competencies and remember to document the orientation process. Such documentation will help you assess residents' learning curve as well as your own practices. Provide some time to connect with residents and actively participate in their adaptation to your hospital and community. Finally, many programs use orientation as an opportunity for assessments of clinical skills. These assessments can be done using a variety of techniques, including:

  • Self-assessment
  • Standardized patients
  • Objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs)

    Remember, your incoming class usually includes residents from a variety of medical schools, with varying amounts of prior training. Gauging their competence level at the start of their residency helps you to create an individualized learning plan.

    All the best,

    Kathryn Andolsek, MD, MPH,

    Associate director for graduate medical education
    Duke University Medical Center
    Durham, NC

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