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10 things your EMT onboarding process is missing

From what to include in the welcome packet to how to incorporate resiliency training and family outreach – here’s how to improve your new employee orientation


Photo/City of Tacoma

Your recruitment video, witty social media posts and community outreach are working. Your new recruit class is a few weeks out of new employee orientation, alleviating overtime and the staffing crunch. And then one of your new providers gives notice.

Losing new members after all the efforts you’ve made to find, onboard and train them is not only frustrating, it’s costly. [Fill out the form on this page to download your copy of 10 things your onboarding process is missing]

In the 91Ƶ Special Coverage series, “Year One: Creating a career path for new EMTs,” we learned the onboarding process is a crucial step in forming a bond with new employees – decreasing the likelihood they experience buyer’s remorse in their new role, and increasing their chances of long-term success.

Here, find 10 things your onboarding process is missing:

Find out what your onboarding process is missing:

1. An emotional connection

Within a week of an accepted job offer, send a “welcome to the team” card or letter. Receiving a personal note from the chief/CEO sends an impactful message that the new hire is already an important addition to the organization. Have a team member call the new hire directly to offer a personal welcome and to answer any questions about the first day and beyond. Build excitement and momentum in the employee for selecting your organization to build their career with.

Read more: The first 90 days, by Maria Beermann-Foat, PhD, MBA, NRP

2. A welcome packet

The following details will help the new hire prepare for a successful start: exactly when and where to report for orientation, transportation and parking instructions, any dress codes or uniforms required, the orientation schedule and important documents needed to fill out the prerequisite HR/employment forms.

Read more: The first 90 days, by Maria Beermann-Foat, PhD, MBA, NRP

3. Face time with senior leadership

Richmond Ambulance Authority’s new employee orientation classroom phase includes two interactions with chiefs: one on day 1, laying out expectations, and another toward the end of the week, offering new employees a chance to ask questions as they have had a few days to acclimatize to the organization

Read more: RAA’s secrets to onboarding success, by Rob Lawrence

4. Family outreach

Some organizational leaders make it a habit to send a letter to the new hire’s spouse or family, acknowledging the future time sacrifice that this line of work entails and providing gratitude for the time commitment and anticipated missed birthdays/holidays/etc. that this type of work often requires. Acknowledging the sacrifice families make for their EMS provider helps lessen the sting.

Read more: The first 90 days, by Maria Beermann-Foat, PhD, MBA, NRP

5. Quality preceptor development

Having a designated, better-trained and prepared group of preceptors will help increase a new employee’s chance of success and job satisfaction. Use defined criteria to identify who can be a preceptor and then include a formal professional development program. Start with a small group of individuals and expand each year. The group should commit to improving orientation and clinical processes within the organization, and be compensated for their advanced training and professional development role.

Read more: 4 steps to improving EMS retention with onboarding, by Joey Araiza, RN, BSN

6. Resilience training

Richmond Ambulance Authority incorporates a resiliency training program for new recruits that covers anxiety, PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as conditions that may exacerbate those injuries, such as lack of sleep and substance abuse. In addition to recognizing the injury in themselves, students are taught how to recognize warning signs in their crewmates.

Read more: RAA’s secrets to onboarding success, by Rob Lawrence

7. An introduction to just culture

Clinical errors will inevitably occur. At ESD11 Mobile Healthcare, providers will never be fired for a clinical mistake. However, lying, fraud, racism and neglect simply will not be tolerated.

Read more: 10 clinical commandments, by Casey Patrick, MD, FAEMS; and Xavier de la Rosa, BS, LP, NRP, FP-C

8. Positive feedback

Training someone centers around fostering an environment that makes it easier to do the right thing, and then praising the trainee for doing it. Along the way, you need to search for reasons to say, “Good job, we’re proud of you,” as often as possible.

Read more: Top 10 ways to ruin a good EMT, by Kelly Grayson, NRP, CCP

9. Thoughtful pairing of staff

If your rendition of partnering individuals together as a crew encompasses drawing names out of a hat, or simply filling-in the empty spaces with the new EMT, then you likely have an employee engagement issue on your hands. Analyzing how your staff members interact, absorb, decide and organize can help to build teams, align project leaders and foster positive working environments for crews.

Read more: 3 ways you’re losing EMS providers, by Tim Nowak, AAS, BS, NRP, CCEMTP, SPO, MPO, CADS

10. A formal evaluation process

Evaluation is an instrument used to determine individual strengths and weaknesses across a spectrum of performance dimensions related to an employee’s specific job. Neither punitive nor disciplinary, performance evaluation can help improve employee performance, develop and update training procedures, develop rapport between supervisors and subordinates and identify future agency leaders.

Read more: Improving personnel performance through evaluations and training by Rex M. Scism

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In this episode, our co-hosts are joined by Maria Beermann-Foat to discuss how agencies can start the retention process in the first 90 days of a new hire

Fill out the form on this page to download your copy of 10 things your onboarding process is missing

Kerri Hatt is editor-in-chief, 91Ƶ, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading execution of special coverage efforts. Prior to joining Lexipol, she served as an editor for medical allied health B2B publications and communities.

Kerri has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University, in Philadelphia. She is based out of Charleston, SC. Share your personal and agency successes, strategies and stories with Kerri at khatt@lexipol.com.