by Lynette Kee, MA
Programmatic Advisor, Clinical Workforce Solutions

In the wake of the current pandemic, many health systems have been strained by increased levels of stress and burnout, absenteeism, and turnover among its clinicians. COVID-19 is placing increased demands on health systems and clinicians as well as a renewed focus on the importance of clinician well-being. An effective clinician onboarding program can help ensure clinician well-being and engagement throughout their career—including times of immense stress—but it needs to begin on day one.

The first year of employment is a particularly sensitive time for clinicians to establish a loyal relationship or to become disenfranchised. Investing in the development and ongoing maintenance of a robust clinician onboarding program will assist you in providing the support, preparation, and foundation that clinicians need for a successful career at your organization.  Here’s a checklist of some of the most important areas. How does your organization’s clinician onboarding program stack up?

Clinician onboarding program checklist

  • Program provides a broad view of health care, including emerging issues in the industry
  • Program helps clinicians better understand the organization’s processes and priorities as well as their unique contribution to strategic work
  • Program exposes clinicians to career pathways and organizational resources while also creating a forum for interactions with leaders and topic experts across the organization
  • Program helps to develop and refresh interprofessional skills that are increasingly vital to success by providing tools for continuous improvement and enhancing well-being
  • Program length is 6–12 months, which has been shown to be more impactful than onboarding initiatives that only last 2–4 weeks
  • Program includes one-to-one support from trained mentors to help clinicians assimilate into their new role and organization over the course of the first year. The mentor/mentee relationship should be a safe and developmental relationship, outside of the participant’s reporting structure. It also is important to make sure mentors receive consistent training to develop leadership and communication skills and to understand expectations of the mentor/mentee relationship
  • Program results in cultural immersion and relational connections. Excellent onboarding programs establish a structure that will ensure cultural immersion and exposure to system leaders. They also help participants establish a network and a sense of belonging
  • Program curriculum is timely and relevant to equip clinicians to understand emerging issues in healthcare and to acquire skills that will be necessary for success in a modern practice environment

Effective clinician onboarding is extremely important. When properly implemented, your onboarding program will result in increased engagement and higher retention rates among your clinical staff.

How did your organization’s clinician onboarding program stack up? If you have room for improvement, consider partnering with an organization like Vizient that has developed a program with resources that will meet your needs. Such organizations will keep the curriculum for your program relevant, aligned with accreditation standards based on current trends in healthcare, and may also offer continuing education credits to participants.

To learn more about how to establish a robust onboarding program for physicians and advanced practice providers, please visit Vizient’s Physician and Advanced Practice Provider Onboarding Program information online or email us. To learn more about how to establish an effective Nurse Residency Program, please visit the Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program information online.

About the Author: As programmatic advisor for Clinical Workforce Solutions, Kee serves as a subject matter expert and primary point of contact for members who are partnering with Vizient to create a best-in-class onboarding experience for physicians and advanced practice providers. She assists in ongoing program development, implementation, training and evaluation.  Lynette has close to 20 years of experience in health care, focused on patient experience and workforce issues like clinician recruitment, onboarding, training and development.


Published: November 19, 2020