A direct correlation exists between job satisfaction and employee retention with an organized and compassionate orientation process for new employees on a nursing unit. It is generally recognized that preceptorship/mentoring is the most desirable orientation modality; however, situations occasionally require orientees to work with several preceptors with varying levels of proficiency. A program based upon a framework designated "critical pathway" was established in a coronary care unit and a cardiac progressive care unit to organize orientation information into weekly segments, with each week's content building upon the previous week's information. Because the critical pathway clearly delineates the orientation content, all necessary information is imparted to the orientee in an organized fashion without omitting pertinent details. Problems with orientation are documented as variances on the critical pathway, and are discussed between the preceptor and orientee during weekly evaluation sessions. This article reports the procedure for developing a critical pathway for orientation using the critical pathway concept, which is adapted from the nursing case management practice model.

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