The Onboarding Preboarding Playbook for Healthcare

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the digital onboarding playbook

Preboard or onboard with This Hireology Best Practices Playbook


For healthcare agencies, effective onboarding or preboarding is critical to set up any registered nurse, caregiver or any other healthcare professional up for success – especially in today’s critical climate. 

But many healthcare organizations don’t have a set onboarding process in place, which can lead to a mad scramble during employee rostering or hiring.

This can be frustrating on the new employee – and may lead to your newest class of registered nurses to leave your roster, forcing you to begin the hiring process from scratch.

Disjointed onboarding can also harm your agency as a whole – in the rush to get new healthcare professionals onboarded, you might miss out on key documents, certifications or you might not provide new employees with enough information and training to succeed in providing outstanding patient care.

A strategic preboarding or onboarding process starts before each employee’s first day with your healthcare agency to ensure your roster stays engaged so they can start contributing to your patient load as soon as they join your team. It also also helps your team stay organized, which leads to saving time and money, while driving hiring decisions faster.

In the following sections, we’ll walk through what we consider to be best-in-class examples of healthcare preboarding or onboarding to help you drive a great candidate experience and help fill your open healthcare positions so you can concentrate on providing the best patient care you possibly can.

Special note: Different agencies use the terms onboarding and preboarding, depending on when they begin briefing nurses and other healthcare professionals about their duties. To eliminate confusion, we’ll refer to this step as onboarding, but please know that our tips and tactics will be completely applicable to preboarding steps as well.

Step 1: Get Organized

The first step in any successful onboarding program is getting organized. And one way to make your onboarding more efficient is by making all required documents digital – instead of losing track of piles of paper or an old, overcrowded filing cabinet.

Make sure you have a repeatable onboarding process in place so you can be as efficient as possible on each new employee’s first day – instead of starting from scratch each time. But even with a set process, be flexible when it comes to catering onboarding to different roles, as some roles may require different training
or documentation than others.

Think about your onboarding process and answer the following questions:

Do you track and collect certifications, immunization records and other required forms before rostering or hiring?

Do you send onboarding materials to be completed and signed digitally before the new hire’s first day?

Does your business have a centralized digital system to store onboarding and other relevant employee information?

Did you answer no to any of these questions?

If you did, it might be time to partner with a hiring and talent management provider who can streamline onboarding and automate error-prone processes.

Step 2: Audit your Candidate Onboarding docs

Proper documentation is key to onboarding, as it ensures you have everything you need from your candidates to verify employment eligibility, pay employees, administer benefits, get employees up to speed on your business and
maintain compliance.

Candidate documents help you understand the existing certifications, immunization records, and insurability of each candidate applying to your open healthcare roles. Collecting these documents during the hiring process ensures that you’ll find red flags before you roster a candidate, saving time while preventing audits or potential litigation due to missing records or allowing unqualified candidates to advance to your team roster.

Hireology recently introduced a document checklist feature that allows hiring managers to keep track of documents and processes required for a registered nurse or other healthcare professional to be successful in your open roles. Tracking documents offline may feel slow for one candidate, but scaled across your entire team – or organization – needs, this becomes a bottleneck that leads to significantly slower onboarding for your most critical roles.

Collecting these required documents may feel very manual if it’s based on email or paper forms. With platform enhancements Hireology is making for hiring and onboarding, this becomes a seamless process, allowing your applicants to proactively complete these steps digitally. 

Here are the documents hiring managers in the healthcare space can track using our checklist feature as part of the Hireology platform:

Critical Candidate Documents:

Now more than ever, the focus on immunizations is critical to ensuring your staff keeps your patients safe and healthy. Confirming any new hire has documented immunizations will save you the headache of processing employees who may be unsafe to work with your clients.

Along with immunization records, confirming new healthcare hires have tested negative for tuberculosis will drive peace of mind to prevent the spread of this dangerous disease.

Verifying licenses and accreditations will ensure your new roster of registered nurses is licensed and has the skills and experience to join your team. Don’t wait until onboarding to verify these critical documents.

Collecting CPR certifications during the hiring process can help prioritize those with the required skills to perform CPR or other life-saving and first-aid procedures if needed.

If required for the role, collecting details about a candidate’s recent physical examination can help document if they can meet the physical demands of the job.

Insurance plays an important role for healthcare professionals. Ensuring your candidate have medical liability coverage can give you peace of mind for having them interact with your patients. If travel is needed for out-patient care or other locations, motor vehicle coverage will be an important factor for success.


Onboarding documents are completed by your team after you make the decision to roster or hire them. Like candidate documents, onboarding document materials help you manage your hiring process and maintain compliance. The distinction here is that onboarding documents are unique to your agency, related to the contact details, benefits elections, employment status and other requirements unique to your business.

The below list includes common onboarding documents our healthcare customers use to organize their rostered or hired team members:

Critical Onboarding Documents:

Collecting each employee’s contact information – home address, phone number, email and emergency contacts ensures you’ll have this data when you need it for benefits administration and HR tasks.

Rather than paper pay stubs, most businesses now pay employees via direct deposit. Make sure you have new employees’ direct deposit information as soon as possible, so each employee can receive
their first paycheck on time.

Require each new employee to complete a W-4 before the first day so you can ensure accurate state and federal income tax is withheld from each paycheck.

These forms ensure your company is compliant with employee eligibility requirements and that your new hires are who they claim to be.

When employees read and sign the employee handbook and training documents before they begin, they’ll learn about your company culture and core values, making them even more excited to get started. And most importantly, they’ll feel empowered to begin contributing to your business immediately.

Your organization may have specific role-based needs for software or role certifications, or to complete a training series before the new hire’s first day. Include any specialized materials that they can review or complete at their own pace to be set up for success.

Step 3: Prep For Day One

With most of the certification and onboarding paperwork out of the way before an employee’s first day, you can get started with training immediately – moving new employees one step closer to patient care.

But, if you’re short staffed before your newest rosters or hires start, you might make the mistake of waiting until their orientation to prepare for the first day. The last thing any new employee wants is to arrive and not have a set schedule ready for them – it will leave a bad impression and might disengage the new employee to looking at another healthcare agency, leaving you empty handed.

preparING for each new employee’s first day:

Is a team member responsible for ensuring each new employee has everything they need on the first day – training materials, system log-ins, supplies?

Do you have a companywide onboarding checklist to ensure no steps are missed?

Do you have a structured training program in place today?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, it’s time to rethink your onboarding and training program – and ensure everything is ready for each employee before they walk in the door.

Think about the employee training program you have in place now.

Below, fill out which training sessions you run through with all new hires: a company overview or 1:1 with the new employee’s manager, ongoing training sessions or any additional steps you can add if you think onboarding elements are being overlooked in your current onboarding program.

Step 4: Keep Improving the Process

When you have a clear understanding of what’s working and what’s not, you can outline actionable next steps for improvement.

 An easy way to do so is by identifying actions you need to start, stop and continue to make your onboarding process more efficient and ensure employees start off on the right foot. 

For example, you might want to start pulling all materials employees need on their first day ahead of time or stop waiting until an employee has started to schedule training sessions.

Next Steps

Following an effective onboarding process that begins before an employee’s first day is key to long-term employee success and engagement.

Healthcare professionals have never been in higher demand. Making sure you have the right steps in place to onboard them will set them up for success, driving both retention and patient care. By investing into your hiring and onboarding processes, you’ll help provide a better candidate experience, streamline operations and help ramp your newly rostered nurses or other critical healthcare professionals even faster.

Making sure you have a process in place to share required onboarding documents digitally ensures new employees don’t end up spending their entire first day filling out administrative paperwork when they could be contributing to your growing needs of patient care.

Effective onboarding is just one piece of a strong people process.

Hireology helps healthcare organizations of all sizes develop a hiring process and centralize talent management to build and manage their best teams of healthcare professionals.

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