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Discussing Successful Onboarding for APRNs With Maritza Alencar, DNP, MBA, APRN-BC, BMTCN®

At the recent Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress in Anaheim, California, Dr. Maritza Alencar of the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center gave a presentation about the role of an effective onboarding program for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). In this interview, Dr. Alencar provides additional insights into this importance of this training in order to minimize burnout and shares resources to aid in the development of a well-structured onboarding program.

Oncology Data Advisor: What is the need for a well-structured onboarding program for APRNs, as you discussed in your presentation?

Maritza Alencar, DNP, MBA, APRN-BC, BMTCN®: One of the things that I focused on in my talk was that we are going to have a huge shortage of providers both from the physician side and the nursing side. We know that because of the pandemic, a lot of our nurses stayed within the nursing bedside, so we saw a shortage in nurse practitioners going back to school to do graduate studies. Of course, with the new drugs that are coming out, leading to patients living longer, we need to make sure we have access to care for these individuals in order to achieve the best outcomes for them. We will need nurse practitioners.

The onboarding is important because we know about the problems of burnout and high turnover for institutions, so there's a cost tied to this as well. That's the importance of having well-structured onboarding: to retain those good folks that you bring on and give them the job satisfaction and the growth that they need to advance in their careers.

Oncology Data Advisor: Great. What are the key components of a successful onboarding program?

Dr. Alencar: The key components are certainly having a checklist and having an itinerary or a timeline. Whether it's going to be a three-month process or an eight-week process—I think each institution can define what their program looks like—it involves creating a structure that is clear to that individual who's coming in and ensuring that they know the expectations of that role that they will be in.

That can look different depending on what their role is going to be. If someone's in medical oncology or if they're doing hematologic malignancies on an inpatient unit or as a transplant nurse practitioner, the expectations may be different. But making sure you have clear competencies will set those expectations and guide them in what they need to know to be successful in that role.

Oncology Data Advisor: Are there any resources that you recommend for developing a successful onboarding program?

Dr. Alencar: We can definitely look at different societies or organizations to guide that. For example, ONS has a very good competency for nurse practitioners in oncology that we currently use at our institution to guide what those competencies look like. I've also found that the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has a very good checklist, and it includes an onboarding and practice guide based on ONS, as well as an itinerary and expectations. It's a wonderful resource.

Oncology Data Advisor: That's good to know. Thanks very much for sharing this information.

About Maritza Alencar

Maritza Alencar, DNP, MBA, APRN-BC, BMTCN®, is a nurse practitioner and the Executive Director of Clinical Operations for the Oncology Service Line Inpatient Services at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. She specializes in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and the management of graft-versus-host disease in transplant recipients. Dr. Alencar is Vice Chair for the Advanced Practice Provider Special Interest Group and serves on the Committee on Education for the American Society of Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.

For More Information

Oncology Nursing Society (2022). Oncology nurse practitioner competencies. Available at: https://practice.asco.org/sites/default/files/drupalfiles/2021-01/APP-Onboarding-Guide-1-18-21.pdf

American Society of Clinical Oncology (2020). Advanced practice provider (APP) onboarding and practice guide. Available at: https://practice.asco.org/sites/default/files/drupalfiles/2021-01/APP-Onboarding-Guide-1-18-21.pdf

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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