Associate Dean identifies pandemic-related challenges for nursing students

dr Kimberly Petrovic, Associate Dean of the WNMU School of Nursing & Kinesiology, and her national nursing education colleagues recently saw her article, “Nursing Student Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic From 2020-2021,” published in the journal Teaching and Learning of care.

“This particular article demonstrates the collaboration between New Mexico’s associate degree in nursing programs and bachelor of science in nursing programs as we work to retain students who will become registered nurses in the state workforce in the near future,” said Dr. Petrović.

The New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium, a consortium of eleven state-funded nursing schools, requires students to complete surveys at the end of the semester to evaluate programs. In Spring 2020, a question was added to the survey to identify the challenges students have been experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic: “What was the biggest challenge you faced at the end of the semester/semester?” This question became will be made available to students again in spring 2021.

“This qualitative study assessed student responses to this question, initially using assessment data from Spring 2020, when the pandemic first necessitated emerging pedagogical changes affecting the pre-licensing training of nursing students. Next, the Spring 2021 assessment responses were analyzed to provide insight into what challenges nursing students have identified a year after the onset of the pandemic,” the paper reads.

This group, to which Dr. Petrovic of WNMU and representatives from Central New Mexico Community College, Luna Community College and the University of New Mexico set out to identify the challenges nursing students will face in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Through qualitative research methods, they identified and compared eight themes in each of the two years. A similarity between the two years was technology-related challenges, and while online learning remained an issue in both years, students’ emotional responses shifted from a sense of loss to one of motivation. The paper highlights how collaboration in nursing education can mitigate future crises for nursing programs.

Ultimately, the group concluded that the nursing faculty must anticipate and respond to student feedback while maintaining competency in face-to-face and online teaching-learning strategies. Waiting until emergencies arise that require other types of pedagogy is not enough to ensure teachers are comfortable with online pedagogy.