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COVID-19, GN, GN role, graduate nurse, onboarding process, orientation, pandemic



  1. Plamondon, Cassandra MSN, RN
  2. Peterson, Kym MSN, RN, CNL
  3. Baker, Kathy M. MSN, RN
  4. Barsamian, Jenny DNP, RN
  5. Grillo Darcy, Ann Marie MSN, RN, ACNS-BC
  6. Mackinson, Lynn MSN, RN, ACNS-BC
  7. Milano, Andrea MSN, RN, CCRN, CMC
  8. Mills, Lauren B. BSN, RN


Purpose/Objectives: The purpose is to describe the development and implementation of an onboarding program that successfully oriented and supported graduate nurses (GNs) in their transition to practice during the first COVID-19 pandemic surge.


Description of the Program: The program was developed utilizing Benner's novice-to-expert model with consideration of the Institute of Medicine's report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health as an evidence-based theoretical framework and structure. The GN orientation consisted of 3 phases that began upon initial hire into the role and ended after they transitioned into the entry-level registered nurse (RN) role.


Outcomes: Fifteen of the 16 GNs hired passed the NCLEX-RN examination and transitioned to the entry-level RN. After transitioning, GNs were surveyed to assess comfort levels with professional nursing roles and to identify knowledge gaps and areas for improvement. Six categories emerged for discussion: (1) work experience, (2) communication and feedback, (3) support, (4) clinical confidence, (5) workload, and (6) transition challenges. Implications to consider for future programs are to improve communication surrounding the GN role and limiting the number of preceptors during orientation.


Conclusions: A 3-phased approach to orientation was successful in onboarding and supporting GNs in their transition to practice.