Orienting New Staff

Tips for a Successful Beginning

Getting off to a good start is crucial in efforts to retain physicians and other CHC staff members, and a thorough and effective orientation is essential. The new employee’s efficiency and sense of belonging will be enhanced by a good center orientation.

Introductions to Community Health Centers (CHCs), your community, and your organization should be provided in a combination of pre-hire visits and initial work days.

Please click or scroll down for:
Understanding the CHC World
Getting to Know the Community
Getting to Know the CHC
Additional Online Resources


Any new CHC staff member, from physicians to front desk, should have a thorough understanding of CHCs. Be sure to provide information and resources on the Community Health Center system in this country, related Federal and State agencies and a list of commonly used acronyms (especially those specific to your site).

For an explanation of Community Health Centers, link to our About CHCs page.

Click HERE to link to our CHC Terms & Acronyms page.

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) offers an excellent introduction to the history and practice of CHCs on their CD-ROM entitled “The Community Health Center Network: Information Guide to Programs & Partners”.

To order this resource, please contact:

Publication Department
National Association of Community Health Centers
7200 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 210
Bethesda, MD 20814


Consider asking another member of your staff to give your new employee (and his or her family) an introduction to your community. (Often, a portion of this type of introduction will occur during pre-hire site visits.)

Be sure to include both:

  • Local conveniences (grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, recreation centers, schools, appropriate religious service sites, etc.)
  • Work-related sites (hospitals, specialists, etc.)


Don’t assume that new staff will gradually get to know where everything is located, who the support/clinical staff is, or even who his/her professional colleagues are.

Be sure your new staff member has an ample amount of time to meet with personnel from all sections of your site, which may include:

  • Human Resources: complete paperwork/forms, including for compensation package, beeper, long distance calling code, lab coat, etc.
  • Medical Director or other Department Head: tour of
    site(s), (re)introductions to medical colleagues, review of medical and administrative policies and protocols, how to request leave or equipment, etc.
  • Pharmacist: overview of resources, formulary, and free indigent drug programs, etc.
  • Director of Nursing: policies and protocols, etc.
  • Director of Social Services: referrals, resources, eligibility, and charges, etc.
  • Billing Department: coding, billing paperwork, etc.
  • Office Manager: site orientation, keys, etc.

Note for new physicians:
Introductions to the rest of the medical staff are vital. A new physician will need to build a practice and will rely to some extent on referrals from other physicians. A new physician can become disillusioned quickly if he/she feels that no referrals are occurring; often the reason is that other physicians are not aware of the presence of the new physician in more than a passing way.


Comprehensive list of suggestions for orienting new staff, including orientation emails with links to company and employee information, providing information about “extracurricular” work activities (e.g. casual Fridays), limiting first day paperwork, etc.
Employee Onboarding: One Chance for a Positive New Employee Experience

Association of Clinicians for the Underserved STAR² Center
Checklist and customizable tool highlighting background information on onboarding, key components of the process, and a baseline list of documents required as part of the process.
Health Center Onboarding Checklist

Ere.net: Recruiting Intelligence. Recruiting Community.
Outlines how onboarding helps the organization succeed; provides tips including: address potential concerns upfront, stretch out the program, take advantage of the Intranet, educate managers about the need to provide meaningful discussion and reflective work experience, and assign mentors or coaches to each new employee for the first 90 days of employment.
Onboarding in Tough Economic Times: Build Engagement and Promote Retention

Blog addressing the orientation of new staff based on experience in private practices and hospitals; outlines basics, critical information, ways to create a memorable orientation, etc.
Best Practices in Developing an Orientation Program for Your New Medical Practice Employees

Defines onboarding; focuses on making the new hire feel comfortable and efficiently creating productive new members; concludes with brief instructions for building an onboarding program and a free downloadable onboarding checklist.
Employee Onboarding

Philanthropy Careers
Practical and implementable information about onboarding, including how much technical training to do on the first day, giving the new hire a buddy, dedicating the first day to new employee learning values and mission of the company, being straight forward about where the company is at and involving exercises that involve thinking, etc.
Practical Tips for New-Employee Orientation