The difficulty of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Nursing Student Education
Provide a comprehensive introduction to the situation, including the background and scope of the problem, all individuals involved in the situation, any solutions that were attempted, as well as the outcome of those solutions. Make sure you have clearly identified who owns the problem and why. (Remember that you cannot always control the actions of others, so it should be a problem you own and thus have control over the alternatives for action.)
Then apply a formal problem-solving or decision-making model and apply each step of the model to reach a decision about the best way to address the problem. Make sure you identify whether a maximizing or satisfying solution was needed and why. Also make sure you have specific evaluation criteria that include both process (how you will measure the quality of your decision making itself) and outcome measures (actual outcomes).
Authenticity is important in this paper. Be realistic in your problem solving in terms of the time, energy, and power you must implement the chosen alternative. In addition, it is important to demonstrate self-awareness in your analysis by discussing what personal values or beliefs might have influenced your choices.
Writing Expectations—6 to 8 pages, double-spaced, in length, not counting title page and references. APA format required (title page, citations in body of paper, and reference list). An introduction and conclusion are required. The steps of the problem-solving or decision-making model chosen are recommended as additional subheadings for the paper.
The COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO in March 2020. Following its declaration, all the government sectors, including the education sector, were affected and had to change how they ran their daily business. The COVID-19 virus is contagious and can be spread through contact with infected air droplets close contact with infected individuals. Due to the high contagiousness of the virus, the governments instituted several mechanisms to control the virus, including mandatory wearing of protective clothing such as the mask when in public, social distancing limiting public gatherings, and banning international travels into the country. To limit the spread, the government also introduced a lockdown, which aimed at preventing social interactions, which contributed significantly to the spread of the virus (Cengiz et al., 2021). This resulted in people having to work from home, and the students in universities and colleges had to utilize online learning platforms as physical learning was no longer viable. While the online learning platforms effectively prevented the spread of the virus among the students, it led to other challenges that students had to deal with since they could not attend in-person learning. This paper will discuss the difficulties that nursing students encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the solutions they adopted to solve the challenges.
Background and scope of the problem
The nursing education programs were abruptly interrupted by the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, and students could no longer attend in-person physical classes as a strategy to limit the spread of the virus and protect them and their families from the infections. However, nursing education requires the student to complete an in-person clinical placement as part of their studies, and with the online learning, it was impossible to complete the clinical placements as required. This created a major concern for us, the students, and the nursing institutions as it interrupted the normal nursing education program, which meant that, as nursing students, we would have to spend a longer period completing the course. The challenge was that it was possible to cover and complete the syllabus with online learning, but the clinical placements and other practical classes would be incomplete. Therefore, it would be impossible for the institutions to assess whether the courses were completed since major parts of the assessment were not completed yet. As a nursing student, a major concern was spending more time in the institution since this could lead to higher financial implications. Some of the students were close to completing their studies, while some of us had few courses remaining to complete the course (Mukasa et al., 2021).
Cancellation of the ongoing clinical placements and extension of our study time created confusion and psychological stress due to the significant impacts these interruptions had on our academic, career, and private life goals. The online classes were also a new practice since we have been used to learning together as a group, and therefore the introduction of online classes where we only met virtually created some form of loneliness since we were not used to them. Since the practice was relatively new, the lack of adequate infrastructures, such as high-speed internet connection, frustrated students during their online class sessions. As the students, we also felt that the instructors could not meet and address all our individual needs since some classes were conducted under limited time and, therefore, impossible to answer everybody’s questions (Dewart et al., 2021). The confusion and uncertainties concerning our education and future academic goals, and social restrictions, created tremendous stress for us, the nursing students, causing us to develop some mental health issues. Some nursing students developed mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression, which caused most of the students to develop strained relationships with family members and those close to them since everybody was also affected by the pandemic (Mukasa et al., 2021).
To help cope with the students’ experiences, there were several efforts initiated. Some of the educational institutions provided online services where the students could access mental health services; for example, some institutions provided pamphlets, brochures, and other published materials on mental health and how to cope with the different stressful situations, that students would access in case they needed mental health assistance. Some also had professional counselors in place to assist in severe mental challenges. The institutions also tried to restructure their learning schedule to ensure that students complete their courses within time as they had earlier projected or with minimal extension. Much of the efforts were also focused on reassuring the students that their academic goals are still viable and can still be achieved if they focus on them (Cengiz et al., 2021). The education sectors and institutions also tried to improve their websites to support more users; however, the challenge remained unresolved for students with poor internet connections. While the interventions were effective in assisting the students to respond effectively to the psychological challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there remained a significant share of the challenges that were not addressed (Dewart et al., 2021).
Formal Problem-solving Model
To solve the challenges experienced by the nursing students during the pandemic, the six-step problem-solving model would be appropriate. The model involves six steps that should be followed to comprehensively define the problem and identify the solutions that would adequately solve the problem. The first step according to this model is defining the problem. This step involves diagnosing the problem by looking at the issue’s symptoms, context, and background. Defining a problem is one of the most critical steps since the effectiveness of the solutions selected will depend on the ability to correctly identify the problem (Chen 2020). In the case of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nursing students, the identified problem was psychological stress, which was expressed through anxiety, depression, and strained relationships between the students and those they were in close contact with.
The second step in the model is identifying the root cause of the problem identified in the first step. To accurately address a problem, the root causes of the problem must be first identified as they need to be fully addressed, and failure to address the root causes of the problem will only lead to addressing the symptom, which provides short time to relieve from the symptom, but the re-occur with time. In trying to determine the root causes of psychological stress experienced by the nursing students, the pandemic is normally identified as the major cause; however, there are more underlying causes that need to be addressed. Some of these underlying causes/root problems included concerns by the students that the pandemic is derailing their dreams. The majority of the students felt that they would have to spend more years in colleges to achieve their dreams of being nurses, which altered their planned career and life goals, causing some to lose hope. The students also felt that the online learning alternative that was introduced did not adequately meet their educational needs as individuals, and therefore they might miss important lessons, which can negatively impact their career progress later in the future. The other root cause was isolation; students are normally used to learning and studying in peer groups, which are also used to meet their social needs, however with the pandemic, it was impossible to maintain the social interactions they had been used to, leading to psychological stress (Dewart et al., 2021).
The third step is to develop alternative solutions to the problems. When addressing a problem, it is important to consider different approaches that can be used to solve the identified problem. Having multiple solutions ensures that the best solution can be selected or even different solutions can be combined to achieve the outcomes faster than when a single solution is used. In this case, some of the possible solutions to the problems included providing materials on mental health awareness to sensitize the students on mental health and how to promote mental health, ensuring frequent communications from the education institutions to inform the students on the status of their course progress, how the institutions are working to ensure they complete their studies within the shortest time possible. Students also need to be encouraged to maintain contact with their course mates for social support and assist each other where possible. Creating awareness of the available institutions where students can seek further help, such as counseling service centers and other centers that can provide basic needs such as food, would also have been appropriate (Cengiz et al., 2021).
The fourth step is to select the solution that will be implemented. In this case, most of the solutions focused on creating awareness about the existing resources that students can use to overcome psychological stress. Therefore, most of the solutions will be selected for implementation, including providing educational materials on mental health and how to promote mental health and creating awareness on existing social institutions where students can seek assistance whenever they are in need. The other solution will encourage the students to maintain contact with their course mates.
The fifth step is where the solutions selected are implemented to achieve the desired outcomes. To implement the solution, a website/social media group should be created, and through this platform, mental health materials should be shared for the students to access; information concerning available social institutions where they can get help will also be shared. The platform will also function as a social joint where the students can meet to share and interact with others.
The sixth step is evaluation; this involves assessing the impact of the implemented solutions to determine if the outcomes meet the set goals. The evaluation can be completed by providing questionnaires bi-weekly to collect data on how students for one month to determine student experiences since they started receiving the information and how well they have utilized the materials. The evaluation will also assess for symptoms of anxiety and depression. The expected outcomes include decreased symptoms of psychological stress increased awareness about mental health practices (Chen 2020).
The declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the normal routines for most sectors worldwide, including the education centers. This disruption affected the education system and nursing education before the pandemic. The pandemic brought about uncertainties among nursing students on how long it would take them to complete their studies and the quality of training they were receiving, and its impact on their career goals. This led to many students experiencing psychological stress they had not encountered previously and affected how they related with those they were close to. To solve the problem, the six-step problem-solving model can be used to guide each step of the solution process. The model includes six-step through which the problem is identified, root cause determined, alternative solutions developed, the solution to be implemented selected and implemented, and then assessment of the implemented solutions. Some of the solutions to be implemented include creating awareness of mental health practices and the resources available in different communities to seek assistance.
Cengiz, Z., Gurdap, Z., & Işik, K. (2021). Challenges experienced by nursing students during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ppc.12923
Chen, Y. (2020). A continuous-time dynamic choice measurement model for problem-solving process data. psychometrika, 85(4), 1052-1075. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11336-020-09734-1
Dewart, G., Corcoran, L., Thirsk, L., & Petrovic, K. (2020). Nursing education in a pandemic: Academic challenges in response to COVID-19. Nurse education today, 92, 104471. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7263267/
Mukasa, J., Otim, M., Monaco, B., Al Marzouqi, A., Breitener, P., & Jawahar, L. (2021). Nursing Students’ Perspectives and Readiness to Transition to E-Learning During COVID-19 in the UAE: A Cross-Sectional Study. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 12, 1505. https://www.proquest.com/openview/1df64f64896a311f309a114783358615/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=3933208