Life during lockdown: Coping strategies used by preregistration nursing students during COVID-19

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Nurse Education in Practice


Aim: To explore the coping strategies used by Australian preregistration nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic ‘lockdown’ period. Background: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on preregistration nursing students, both physically and psychologically. As campuses closed and online learning commenced, clinical placement access was reduced, with heightened concern about personal and family safety. As such, nursing students were forced to adopt coping strategies to manage their self and the environment. Design: A descriptive qualitative study. Methods: One hundred and fifty-five preregistration nursing students enrolled at a regional Australian university completed a self-administered online survey. Results: Overwhelmingly, student responses revealed that staying connected was the key coping strategy to ensure emotional and mental health wellbeing. Heightened vigilance in infection control measures was also evident, personally and for others. Routines, including exercise, facilitated physical and mental wellbeing. Overall, coping strategies identified by nursing students demonstrated applied resilience during the isolation period. Conclusions: Understanding the adaptive coping strategies used by nursing students can enable nurse academics to understand how to best provide support. This study emphasises the importance of recognising that not all students are able to adapt and ‘cope’ without supports in place. Future studies should investigate the longer-term impact of COVID-19 within the broader preregistration nursing experience and how this might impact nursing students’ future careers.

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