Nursing students’ resilience in response to stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Joset E. Brown, Persephone Vargas


Background and purpose: The recent consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic thrust students into unfamiliar learning environments creating an additional stressor to their personal and academic lives.  The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived level of stress, resilience, and coping mechanisms of the nursing students facing the challenges associated with transitioning to a virtual instructional platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Design: The study utilized a cross-sectional design. Using Qualtrics, electronic surveys were distributed to all nursing students in the undergraduate and graduate programs. The study measures used were: Connor Davidson-Resilience Scale and Perceived Stress Scale. Three open-ended questions were included in the survey to identify stressors and coping strategies. SPSS was used to analyze the data using descriptive statistics and correlational analyses. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the answers to the open-ended questions.

Results: A total of 148 students completed the survey.  Using the Perceived Stress Scale, the undergraduate nursing students had a higher mean than the graduate students (p < .05), indicating that the undergraduate students had a higher stress level. Using the Connor Davidson-Resilience Scale, the graduate nursing students had a higher resilience level than the undergraduate students (p < .005), indicating that the graduate students had more resilience than the undergraduate students. Recurrent stressors and coping strategies were identified by the participants. 

Conclusions: The study provides a better understanding of nursing students’ stress and resilience levels in response to significant unexpected occurrences impacting academic life. Strategies and interventions can be implemented to promote students’ resilience and improve their well-being during high-level stressful situations.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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