Dr Wray – Senior Lecturer in Nursing in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Hull, and Senior Clinical Nurse Advisor to NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) for the National Preceptorship Project – was awarded the national honour of being a Burdett Hero at the 20th anniversary of the Trust, which gives charitable grants to support the nursing contribution to healthcare. The Trustees selected 14 project leads, from the hundreds of projects that the Trust has funded over the years, in recognition of their outstanding leadership and impactful research.
The award celebrates Dr Wray’s transformative work in supporting early-career nurses to help tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in the nursing sector. She led the Supporting the Transition and Retention of Newly Qualified Nurses (STaR) project which focused on the transition and retention of newly qualified nurses, including nearly 300 final-year nursing students.
The project supported newly registered nurses during their first year as they transition from student to autonomous practitioner – a period in a nurse’s career when they are at risk of leaving an organisation or the profession. The support that the project provided was key to helping develop confident and competent practitioners and a transition toolkit is freely available to support nurses progressing in the early stages of their career.
Dr Jane Wray, Senior Lecturer in Nursing in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Hull, said: “It’s wonderful to be acknowledged by peers for your achievements and is testimony to the hard work of the STaR project team. I’m delighted our work to improve early-career nurses, is being recognised by the Burdett Trust for Nursing. We know that this is a challenging time for the nursing sector, and that the first year of a nurse’s career is a particularly fragile in terms of retention – so it’s incredibly rewarding to be influencing and improving this for the better.”
Dr Wray’s work in leading the STaR project was instrumental in her securing the role of Senior Clinical Nurse Advisor to NHSEI for the National Preceptorship Project for England earlier this year, where she leads a team to design, develop and deliver an improved framework of support and guidance for newly registered nurses across England.
Dr Wray said: “There is currently little consistency or standardisation for how nurses are supported in the very early stages of their career. The support they receive varies – there can be radically different approaches across different teams, even within the same organisation. Preceptorship – the way we welcome and integrate newly registered professionals into their new team, place of work and role – is central to the retention of nursing colleagues. Supporting them to translate their knowledge and skills into practice, to have the best possible start to life as a practitioner, grows their confidence and their nursing career in the direction that they want to. Preceptorship is no longer a ‘nice to have’. It’s an essential.”