Tons of effort typically goes into recruiting top-notch healthcare candidates who will provide the high-quality care your patients both expect and deserve. But then what happens?
If an organization doesn’t put enough time and care into its onboarding process so new hires feel welcomed and supported, all these efforts will probably go down the drain. It’s absolutely critical that healthcare organizations follow onboarding best practices or risk employee dissatisfaction and retention problems.
Fortunately, this article dives into all the details surrounding healthcare new employee onboarding—from the reasons why it matters and its challenges to best practices and practical know-how.
Keep reading to learn how to improve your practice’s onboarding program so new hires have a great initial experience that translates into many years of happy employment.
Great New Hire Onboarding Matters More Than You Think
It might be tempting to blow off the importance of onboarding. After all, many companies do—to their detriment. But the truth is that employee onboarding, especially in the healthcare industry, matters a lot.
It’s not just about forms and giving tours of the hospital or medical facility. It’s about conveying to new staff members the values of your healthcare organization—which will carry all the way through to the way your patients are treated.
In addition, a successful healthcare onboarding program can prevent feelings of isolation and alienation among new team members, provide the tools and resources necessary for their future success, help them complete important compliance training, and more.
Still not convinced? Consider the fact that a hospital in Washington, D.C., saw its staff turnover drop by -21% in one year after putting a new onboarding process in place.
Trust us; the effort your healthcare organization makes to help new hires acclimate at the beginning of their journey will make all the difference in the long run.
Healthcare and Medical Employee Onboarding Has Its Own Unique Challenges
By now, you’re probably starting to see why onboarding is such an important component of the recruitment process. And this is the case across the board for all industries. But the healthcare field, in particular, carries with it its own unique set of challenges when it comes to getting new employees situated. Let’s discuss this in more detail below.
Burnout is Common in Healthcare
Effective onboarding processes help minimize the turnover that’s caused by burnout, which is incredibly prevalent in healthcare. Stats indicate that a good third of nurses and emergency room staffers feel burned out on any given day. And it makes sense if you think about it. Compared to many other professions, healthcare workers typically deal with higher levels of stress (due to their participation in frequent life-or-death situations, a fear of getting sick themselves, etc.), in addition to excessive workloads, high demands, and disrupted sleep schedules.
Employers must make sure new hires are aware of all available resources from the very beginning. Employees should be told who they can go to for help as they acclimate to this new and stressful work environment.
Healthcare Onboarding Best Practices to Successfully Onboard Your New Hires
Fortunately, there are lots of ways healthcare and medical companies can improve their onboarding processes for new employees—whether they’re working with an AI-powered firm like MSH that handles onboarding for them or going it alone.
They might decide to mimic, for example, other healthcare organizations that go so far as to offer either a comprehensive, one-stop-shop, four-hour onboarding appointment or a 30- to 120-day onboarding process that covers everything, from medical staff services to enrollment in the payor systems—all prior to the employee’s first day.
Below we’ve listed several proven best practices that will help bring your healthcare organization’s onboarding program to the next level, beginning with a brief description of the ideal way to make an offer prior to onboarding.
Offer Process To Kick Off Onboarding
It all starts by presenting a winning offer to your new hire and staying in contact throughout the negotiations. How should you proceed? Follow these three steps:
- Extend a verbal offer within two to three business days (or ASAP) after an interview. Say something like this: “Congratulations, Dr. Smith! We are thrilled to extend an offer to you. Here are the terms [include the terms here]. I’ll be sending you an official offer to this email address. Please review it, and then let’s connect within three business days regarding your review.” This is when negotiations begin. If a formal offer is not available this quickly, a one-page offer letter will work. If the official offer is available, even better—use that immediately!
- Review the offer. The candidate will likely send an email or schedule a call to discuss their outlined bulleted asks of the contract.
- Keep in communication approximately every three business days. Most physicians need to have an attorney review the documents, which can take up to one to two weeks. Staying in communication is key.
With that in mind, let’s get to those aforementioned best practices for onboarding.
Follow a Predetermined Checklist
You’ve probably already heard about all the benefits of using a checklist. Perhaps most importantly, they will help ensure that your hiring manager doesn’t forget anything. Also, having an established process in place will keep the onboarding experience standardized for all new hires.
Have Leadership Send a Personalized Welcome
If you know the senior leaders in the institution are rooting for you, you’re more apt to believe in yourself and feel loyal to them. Having someone higher up in the organization reach out with a personalized call or letter before the employee jumps into their new role may just make all the difference in the world.
Pre-Setup Technology and System Logins
The last thing you want is for your new RN to get to work and not be able to log in to the admin system. Put one of your IT folks in charge of setting up new employee workspaces, technologies, and logins—and make sure they do it in advance so everything is set for the first day. This will prevent wasted time and lots of frustration.
In addition, schedule a meeting between your new hire and IT to quickly get them up to speed with all the necessary technology and programs. From medical equipment and surgical tools that are specific to your facility to its electronic medical records (EMR) program (some groups create their own or use pre-determined templates), it’s imperative that your new clinician receive thorough, timely, and accurate training in these areas.
Oh, and don’t forget to have someone set up their badge access as well!
Hold a Meeting Before the First Day
Everyone gets the jitters before they start a new job. Arranging a (paid) meeting or Zoom call between the new hire and some others in the practice before the first day to offer some reassurance is a powerful way to show you’ve got their back from the get-go.
This is also a great way to pass along logistical information related to parking, dress code, lunch options, and so on, in addition to an idea of where to meet on the first day, an explanation of how to fill out their paperwork and enroll in benefits, and where to go for their required drug screening. Heck, make a day of it and even include some onsite meetings if appropriate!
And remember—no matter what, at least a week before their first day, you should touch base and tell them what to bring on the first day, what they can expect, and what their schedule will be. It’s also a great idea to provide them with an overview of upcoming team meetings.
Promptly Get all the Paperwork, Documentation, and Identification Materials Finalized
This is the part of the onboarding process that usually comes to mind. HR should reach out to all new workers, ideally before they start, and have them complete any necessary forms and paperwork in a timely manner.
This might include:
- I-9 forms
- direct deposit documents and set up
- benefits enrollment paperwork
- badge access
- fittings and ordering any required clothing (like lab coats)
Moreover, will they need a photo taken, bio created, or video produced for your website? If so, don’t forget to set up the appointments to get these done.
Immediately Set and Communicate Expectations Around Training and Timelines
Nobody wants to get to work and be unsure about what they need to do. Clarify all expectations in advance with your new hire. For example, let them know how often they will be meeting with their manager during the first three months, six months, and year of their employment, in addition to when their evaluations or KPIs will be completed. And don’t forget to show them or explain what they will need for every part of their job and where they can find these tools and supplies. Remember, it’s all about making the employee feel comfortable—you want them to enjoy their new job!
Some other considerations:
- Will there be specific training days? If so, communicate this.
- Will there be a welcome lunch or dinner? This is typically scheduled during onboarding for that quarter’s new hires.
- What will their first week or two look like? Make sure their schedule is prepared in advance and provided to them.
- When will their background be checked? Set up this appointment.
Create an Outstanding Experience from the Start
The goal should be to sweep your new team member off their feet from the very beginning of the process. This might even entail sending them a welcome package complete with company swag and a note from their new manager. Basically, you’ll want to help them maintain their excitement about accepting a new job offer as they adjust to the new role, organizational culture, and job responsibilities.
Match Them With a Peer Based On Experience Level
Things never seem as scary or intimidating when you have a buddy by your side. Pairing up new employees with friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced workers during their onboarding period will undoubtedly make the transition much smoother and easier for them. Depending on the new hire's level of experience, this buddy might be a peer or someone more senior.
Introduce Them to Colleagues
This might seem like a given, but make sure it doesn’t accidentally fall by the wayside! Happy employees usually form professional friendships with their coworkers built on trust, respect, and sometimes humor too. Accelerate this process by having someone make the rounds early on with the new hire, introducing them to all their fellow colleagues.
Provide Comprehensive and Tailored Compliance Training
Don’t skip this tip! Regulatory compliance is of the utmost importance for employees in the healthcare industry. New hires must immediately learn about and implement HIPAA and other patient privacy and data regulations. If they don’t, their employer may very well end up paying for this dearly in expensive legal settlements and fines down the line (to the tune of millions of dollars).
Hence, this part of the onboarding process should be well thought out and tailored to each role (so your employees are educated about the policies and regulations that pertain to them specifically). Putting the time and effort in now will likely save your medical company a boatload of money later on.
Ask Them for Feedback
Finally, don’t be bashful! Asking newer hires for feedback about your organization’s onboarding methods can be a great way to identify areas to improve. This can go a long way in assuring new employees have a positive initial experience and want to stay with the practice for a long time.
Orientation Best Practices
Now that we’ve covered several onboarding best practices, let’s briefly dive into how to handle your new hire’s orientation (generally, a one-time event that welcomes them to your practice or hospital).
To start, make that first day memorable for your incoming employee by:
- having someone greet them
- giving them the necessary technology and computer
- providing them with a lab coat and badge, etc.
- handing them a weekly or monthly schedule
Also, be sure to give them a good idea of what to expect around the 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, and one-year marks, as well as from routine check-ins with management.
After they move beyond the first couple of weeks, it’s essential to make plans to touch base with them periodically. A good rule of thumb is at 30, 60, and 90 days and then again after one year.
Most workers appreciate this type of scheduled communication. It shows your practice’s commitment to them and interest in their ongoing success and satisfaction.
Finally, make sure your new employees know which coding and compliance team members to contact if any questions about your EMR system come up. In fact, proactively updating your EMR help documentation and other resources in advance can prove extremely beneficial. The billing and coding guidelines provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are constantly changing, so new hires (and your existing team) must be frequently trained on codes and documentation needs and expectations to support your facility’s billing practices.
Elevate Your Onboarding Process and Achieve Amazing Results
In their quest to find and hire high-quality employees, healthcare organizations must adopt effective recruitment strategies. But then it becomes a matter of retaining those new hires—keeping them fulfilled, engaged, and happily challenged. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by establishing a thoughtful and comprehensive onboarding program that informs, encourages, and embraces those who have recently joined the team.
Intimidated by the idea of creating and implementing a brand-new onboarding process in your medical company? No worries! The experienced team of recruiting experts at MSH can take it all off your hands—building and scaling sustainable teams of fully vetted healthcare professionals who fit into your culture and then handling all the onboarding details so they become dedicated, loyal, and long-lasting employees. Sound good? Great! Contact MSH today to learn more.