The organisational socialisation of new graduate nurses and midwives within three months of their entrance into the health workforce

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Se Ok Ohr
Doreen Holm
Michelle Giles


onboarding, orientation, personal support, transitioning to practice


Objective: To investigate if the current onboarding process influences the organisational socialisation of new graduate nurses and midwives into the workforce. 

Background: Positive organisational socialisation experience for new graduate nurses and midwives during their entry into the healthcare environment is an important contributor when building an organisation’s ability to increase workforce capacity. However, few studies have investigated the onboarding processes to promote their organisational socialisation.

Study design and methods: A quantitative, descriptive, cross-sectional study design was conducted at a large Local Health District that provides health services to almost one million people in metropolitan, rural and remote locations. Participants were 170 new graduate nurses and midwives who commenced their transition program at 21 acute and community healthcare settings within the District in January and February 2017. Data was collected through a document review of current onboarding processes and by an online survey of new graduates. Data sets were analysed using descriptive statistics and content analysis.

Results: The survey response rate was 47% (n= 80). Findings highlight that the onboarding process provided by the District was useful for the new graduate’s transition into the workplace. The findings also indicated that the onboarding process was inconsistent across different contexts in the District and required more relevant and practical components. In addition, the current onboarding did not adequately provide strategies to build relationships for new graduates within their work environments.

Discussion: This study provides valuable insight into current onboarding practices in both metropolitan and rural contexts and highlights gaps in this process across the health District. The findings of the study provide insights and future direction for improvements with addressing the inconsistency in the structure and content of orientation programs. The need for more accessible and consistent organisational information and a more structured framework for the organisational wide onboarding process was also identified.

Conclusion: Re-design of an onboarding process that is relevant, consistent and enhances relationship-building is imperative to meeting both the professional and organisational needs of new graduate nurses and midwives.

Implications for research, policy and practice: The findings of the study imply a need to streamline the onboarding process to provide greater opportunity for new graduates to develop and sustain professional networks and associated workplace relationships regardless of their locations. They also signal a need to develop policies practice and future research to assist a better organisational socialisation, in particular, the allocation of resources, better utilisation of time spent on education and workplace support in the transition into their clinical workplaces.

What is already known about the topic?

  • Supporting new graduate nurses and midwives in their first year is important for their transition into the workforce and to increase their retention in the profession.

  • Onboarding processes for new graduates during their transition into the workplace enhances their professional knowledge and confidence, which increases their capacity to provide safe quality healthcare.

  • Few studies have investigated the relationship between the onboarding process and the promotion of organisational socialisation within the first three months of entering the health workforce.

 What this paper adds?

  • Findings identify the need to improve the onboarding process to better meet the complex needs of the new graduates.

  • Implementation of a tailored onboarding process, especially in rural and specialty areas improves organisational socialisation.

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