4 Essential Questions to Ask During Your Nursing Orientation

nursing orientation By Sarah Stasik 

Got nursing orientation coming up? New nurse orientation is a great opportunity to gather information that will set you up for success in your new nursing job.

Rather than simply go through the motions during nursing orientation, take advantage of this opportunity to learn the ins and outs of your unit. 

Don't set up at the nurse's station without asking these important questions during your new nurse orientation.

4 Essential Questions to Ask During Your Nursing Orientation 

1. How do you find and access policies and procedures?

For an RN new to a facility, policies and procedures are critical tools, as are nurse protocols. Whether you're a new grad nurse or an experienced RN switching jobs, you won't know how everything at this particular hospital works because:

  • Each hospital may have differing policies
  • Every state has different laws governing nurse protocols
  • Even individual teams and floors establish unique procedures that work best for specific patient populations

Retired nurse Tammy Hoyle recalls working in both geriatric and spinal injury environments."Doctors do things differently. Hospitals are different, and you can't memorize everything. Even experienced nurses have to look things up, so you have to know where to do that."

While nursing orientation is meant to provide high-level information about policies, a few days isn't enough time to cover every specific. 

Most hospitals provide access to applicable P&Ps via their network, so you probably won't be looking for a file room full of binders.

2. Who do you go to when you have a question P&Ps don't answer?

Hospital P&Ps might be extensive, but they won't cover every consideration or potential gray area. Make sure you know who to go to if you've got a procedural question or aren't sure what the P&P says on a topic. 

New nurse orientation documentation may include this information, but ask about it if you don't see names and contact methods.

3. What specific procedures are nurses allowed to perform?

"Nurses aren't allowed to do the same things everywhere," says Hoyle. "And all nurses don't have the same authority."

Make sure you understand what procedures and treatments nurses are allowed to perform in the hospital. 

This can vary from state-to-state, so it's an especially important nursing orientation question for travel RNs. 

You can also find the Nurse Practice Act for each state via the National Council of State Boards of Nursing site.

4. What requires a doctor's order, and how do you contact physicians?

Understanding what requires a doctor's order — and how to follow those orders — is a critical requirement for successful work as a nurse. And yet, there are cases where doctor’s orders and hospital policy might not mesh.

During new nurse orientation, ensure you have a good understanding of:

  • Doctor's order requirements
  • How and when you should contact the doctor
  • Where to turn if doctor's orders seem contradictory to policy

Don't be afraid to ask questions during your new nurse orientation. Remember, this is a time for you to gather important information that will allow you to effectively preform your job.

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