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To examine newly hired nurses' and physicians' perceptions of their orientation process in two Finnish hospitals, and to explore correlations between the background variables and the four aspects of a comprehensive orientation process.Internationally, health care organisations are being challenged to recruit and retain a competent workforce. Although health care orientation programmes increase retention and provide safe and quality care, studies examining it are limited.A cross-sectional, descriptive questionnaire survey of registered nurses (n = 145) and physicians (n = 37) working in two specialised hospital settings was conducted in 2009–2010.Nurses' and physicians' perceptions regarding the orientation process ranged from low to moderate. The results showed that ‘appointed preceptor’, ‘duration of orientation’ and ‘profession’ correlated positively and significantly with a comprehensive orientation process.The orientation process needs to be updated constantly and refined by evaluation data. In addition, incentives and effective support from the hospital organisation must be considered in order to perform the orientation process in a more comprehensive manner.The results indicate that investment is needed to improve the orientation process in health care. Health care managers are in a crucial position to support the orientation process in practice and value it as a retention strategy.