Case study

Improving transition for newly qualified nurses

As the number of nurses leaving the NHS hits an all-time high, researchers from the University of Derby have received national recognition for their work in increasing the retention rate of newly qualified nurses in the crucial early stages of their careers.

As recognised experts in addressing transition and employer organisational support structures, the NHS commissioned the University of Derby to investigate the acute staffing problem which sees a high percentage of newly qualified nurses (NQNs) at risk of leaving the profession in the first six months after they qualify.

Research focus

Research focused on evaluating and enhancing the ‘preceptorship’ programme, a scheme which provides NQNs with additional formal support as they develop their practice. NQNs receive guidance from a preceptor – a qualified and experienced practitioner – to strengthen their confidence and build their competence in their first post.

Funded by the Department of Health, the University of Derby and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust explored the most effective support for preceptees and preceptors alike.

Research findings

The findings led to proposals including:

  • The need for specific time to be devoted to preceptorship
  • Adequate preparation for preceptors to undertake the role
  • Official recognition of the process

Recommendations to modernise the hospital’s delivery of preceptorship led to:

  • The introduction of action learning sets to support nurses
  • The establishment of a new role – Learning Environment Facilitator
  • More regular evaluations to assess preceptees’ progress

Making a difference today

Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s preceptorship scheme was highlighted nationally as good practice and a toolkit devised by the research team for NQN training has been endorsed and promoted by NHS Employers, Health Education England and adopted by three Derbyshire NHS trusts. The tookit subsequently featured in the researchers’ Transition to Nursing textbook.

The research team also established the National Clinical Nurse Educator Network (CNEnet) for professionals who play a pivotal role in supporting the transition of NQNs. The network offers advice to clinical nurse educators, reducing the isolation they can experience in what are often short-term contract roles.

With more than 800 members, the network is routinely consulted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Health Education England on policy matters relating to issues such as preceptorship. CNEnet also has a global reach, with an online community that links clinical educators everywhere from the USA to Australia.

Funders

  • Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Health Education England
  • Advance HE

Researchers

  • Dr Bill Whitehead, Principal Investigator (2005-present)
  • Dr Patricia Owen, Senior Lecturer (2006-2012)
  • Lorraine Henshaw, Senior Lecturer (2004-present)
  • Elaine Beddingham, Senior Lecturer (2016-present)

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Research papers:

Blogs: 

teaching in our NHS-standard mock hospital ward

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