In this article, I’m going to answer how long orientation is typically for a new nurse.

On top of that, I’m going to give you some tips to help you get the most out of your nursing orientation.

How Long is New Nurse Orientation?

For more information on the length of new nurse orientation and other new nurse info, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

New nurse orientation typically lasts 2-6 months, depending on the nursing specialty. During new nurse orientation, you’ll work alongside a seasoned nurse as you learn how to work independently in the department.

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  • IV Insertion
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Why Are Some Nurse Orientations So Long?

Typically, a couple of things will determine how long your orientation will be. They all pretty much boil down to what is expected of you.

Certain nursing specialties like mental health nursing will have a shorter orientation than OR nursing.

For example, I’ve heard of psych departments that expect new nurses to be on their own by about the 4-6 week mark.

That’s in comparison to some OR departments that won’t let a new nurse work independently for half a year, and for some, it will get close to that 9 or 10-month mark before they start trusting you.

Usually, a department will have a long orientation period if there’s a lot that you have to do.

In the case of an OR department that deals with all sorts of surgeries requiring you to master many different equipments and setups, it makes sense you’ll have a long training period.


It’s also not uncommon to see your training broken up.

What I mean by that is your department may choose to orient you for something. They’ll let you work independently doing that for a period before they train you on something else.

For example, in the case of the OR department, maybe they orient you on eye surgeries first.

They’ll let you master that and start working independently on that before they teach you about GI surgeries.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Nursing Orientation?

Here are some things to remember to prepare yourself for your new nurse orientation.

1. Get a New Nurse Course

I’m an advocate of freshly licensed nurses taking a new nurse course.

I know you just finished school and do not want to take another course, but I think this one is different.

These courses (like this one I recommend) are geared towards teaching you practical things you’ll need to know to work as a nurse.

No more theoretical situations.

These are actually helpful information. Many of them you’ll learn on your own, but some lessons can help you avoid common mistakes and tell you how to navigate challenging situations.

If nothing else, check out the preview video and see what you think. It even comes with a FREE trial.

2. Ask A Lot of Questions

New nurse orientations are not a time to be shy. It’s the time to ask questions.

Everyone knows you’re new. There are no such things as dumb questions, only the dumb things you do because you didn’t ask a question you should have.

3. Learn How to Find Your Hospital’s Policy

You don’t need to worry about memorizing hospital policy during orientation.

There are of course obvious ones that you’ll learn quickly, but the rest will come with time.

What you need to know is where your hospital policy is located and how to find it quickly.

You’ll be shocked how many situations you’ll find yourself in where there’s confusion over what you should or should not be doing.


Doctors are notoriously bad about knowing what hospital policy is.

NEVER blindly listen to a doctor assuming they know the hospital policy.

In most situations, the blame will fall back on the nurse.

Key Takeaways

Even though orientation will take a couple of months and some of it will be frustrating, hang in there.

Soon enough, you’ll be comfortable enough to be on your own.

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Frequently Asked Questions

For nursing orientation, you’ll need to show up with whatever gear your department requires. You’ll usually need to bring a stethoscope, hemostat, trauma sheers, etc. Essentially come prepared to work.

A nursing orientation is training for nurses who are either new to nursing practice or the department. The goal of the training is to acclimate the nurse to the expectations of the department.

In most cases, you’re going to wear your scrubs, but that will be dependent on the department you’re going to work in. Most likely, you’ll wear whatever the regular attire is for that department.

Most new nurse orientations will involve a classroom time where you’ll be briefed on hospital policy and education. Along with that, you’ll be trained on some general knowledge things. The classroom time will happen before you’re assigned to a preceptor on your unit.

You’ll either wear business attire or scrubs, depending on whether you’re a clinical or administrative hire. Contact the recruiter or the hiring manager to know what attire you should wear.

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