Introduction to Onboarding and Training

As the competition for highly qualified staff increases, employee engagement and retention have become a priority. Providing comprehensive onboarding and training programs for new health and wellness center employees is critical in this effort. An effective onboarding program can ease the new employee’s transition into your organization and assist to establish relationships.

Onboarding and orientation are often used interchangeably but are distinctly different:

Orientation is a small part of the onboarding process and is traditionally a one-time event lasting a few hours to a few days. Orientation is usually conducted just prior to or within the first few days of starting work.


Onboarding is usually an ongoing process that can last for months and is focused on the new hire’s day-to-day work.

The ideal onboarding program is formalized, centralized, and consistent so that all new members receive the same basic information on items such as safety, emergency procedures, and HIPAA and confidentiality. There will be training, such as CPR training, that is position specific. A central database that houses all onboarding and training information allows for easier updating of materials, as well as capability for tracking compliance and analyzing, aggregating, and reporting data points. The following suggestions are not all-inclusive and should be revised to meet the needs of your organization.

Develop a Comprehensive Orientation Manual

An orientation manual can provide new employees with essential information in a user-friendly format. Whether the manual is electronic or paper, it should be meticulously reviewed, updated, accurate, and easily accessible. The content will vary with each organization but will typically include the following.

The Health/Wellness Center

  • Welcome by Director
  • Mission and Vision statements
  • History of the center
  • General information about the center


Health Center Staff

  • Organizational chart
  • Internal telephone directory
  • “Who to See” list—who is responsible for specific functions in the center or unit
  • Internal committees and members
  • Administrative procedures such as employee services, use of leave, calling out, etc.


University Personnel Policies

  • Sexual harassment
  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Workers’ compensation


Health/Wellness Center Personnel Policies

  • Telephone use
  • HIPAA Compliance
  • Confidentiality statement
  • Dress code
  • Code of conduct


Emergency Information

  • Inclement weather and other conditions
  • Fire evacuation
  • Internal emergency codes
  • Campus Early Warning System

Establish an Onboarding Program

Develop a policy and procedure for onboarding.

Define who will be onboarded and trained and the extent of that process. Ideally, include all staff whether they are paid employees, students, or volunteers. Paid employees should undergo the full onboarding program, while students and volunteers could have a modified program. Professional students on rotations or internships should review the full orientation materials and policies relevant to delivering care or services in their assigned clinic or department. Other students and volunteers can be trained as groups at the beginning of a semester starting with a basic introduction to the health center followed by training specific to their responsibilities.

Define who is responsible for ensuring new SSVs are properly oriented and trained.

Each clinic/department should have unit specific orientation and training for all new staff, and the supervisor or designee should be responsible for ensuring the SSV is capable of performing their responsibilities. However, to coordinate the organization’s overall process, consider designating an individual to oversee the onboarding and training program. This individual ideally is within the organization’s human resources department or at least reports directly to administration.

Develop an onboarding and training schedule.

To optimally organize the new employee experience, an onboarding and training schedule should be customized for each new staff member and given to them on their first day. All new employees should have a general overview of all the clinics and departments. The majority of the onboarding time should be scheduled with the employee’s direct supervisor and with the staff working within the new hire’s clinic/department. However, the new employee should be introduced or briefly meet with all departmental supervisors and senior leaders within the first or second week of hire. Schedule longer and/or additional meetings with those departments with whom the new hire will regularly interact. For example, new nurses and physicians need orientation to their own clinic/department as well as the lab, pharmacy, radiology, counseling, health promotion, medical records and appointments, as applicable.

If a health screening, physical exam, and/or immunizations are required, they should be scheduled and completed prior to the first day on the job or as early as possible.

Determine the timeframe for completing all orientation and training activities. Aim to have this completed within the first two to four weeks of start date.

Define required training for new staff.

Training for new staff, students, or volunteers should include those topics required by law, the university, the health or wellness center, and applicable accrediting bodies. Topics could include:

  • Blood-borne pathogens (clinical; housekeeping if employed by HC)
  • CPR (clinical)
  • Fire safety
  • HIPAA, HITECH, and confidentiality
  • Infection prevention, control, and safety
  • Internal procedures for emergencies (e.g., inclement weather, bomb threat, active shooter)
  • IT security and acceptable use (for both the university and health/wellness center, if applicable)
  • Respirator use as well as and fit-testing (include housekeeping staff if employed by the health/wellness center)
  • Sharps injury prevention (include housekeeping staff if employed by HC)
  • University training
    • New employee orientation
    • Performance review and development (or similar evaluation tool)
    • Child abuse reporting
    • Sexual misconduct

Develop a comprehensive checklist for completion of onboarding activities.

Employing a checklist is one tool to document that the employee has successfully completed the organization’s new hire requirements. The checklist does not replace the discussion, dialogue, mentoring, precepting, or supervision that new employees need to become successful members of the organization.

The sample Employee Personnel Services Checklist that follows includes:

  • Documents/policies reviewed or provided to the new hire
  • Required documents from the new hire
  • Topics covered
  • Completion date