Associate Dean Identifies Pandemic-Related Nursing Student Challenges

Dr. Kimberly Petrovic, Associate Dean for the WNMU School of Nursing & Kinesiology

© Western New Mexico University

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

“This particular article demonstrates 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’s workforce in the near future,” Dr. Petrovic said.

The New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium, a consortium of eleven state-funded nursing schools, asks that students complete end-of-term surveys with the goal of evaluating programs. In Spring 2020, a question was added to the survey to elicit challenges experienced by students during the COVID-19 pandemic: “What was the biggest challenge that you had in completing the semester/term?” This question again was asked of students in Spring 2021.

“This qualitative study assessed the student responses to this question, initially using evaluation data from Spring 2020 when the pandemic first necessitated emergent pedagogic changes impacting prelicensure nursing student education. Next, the evaluation responses from Spring 2021 were analyzed, giving insight into what challenges nursing students identified a year into the pandemic,” the paper states.

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

Through qualitative research methods, they identified and compared eight themes across each of the two years. One similarity between the two years included challenges related to technology, and although online learning remained a theme across both years, student emotional responses shifted from a sense of loss to staying motivated. The paper highlights how collaboration in nursing education may mitigate future crises for nursing programs.

Ultimately, the group concluded that nursing faculty must anticipate and respond to student feedback while maintaining proficiency in face-to-face and online teaching-learning strategies. Waiting until emergencies arise that require different types of pedagogy is not sufficient to ensure instructor proficiency with online pedagogies.

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