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Sarah Hy

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



Thesis Committee Chairperson

Janice Hobba-Glose, DNS, MSN, RN

Second Reader

Frances Crosby, Ed.D, RN


In early spring of 2020, Coronavirus (COVID-19) made its rapid spread throughout the world, negatively impacting the lives of so many. Nurses remain at the frontline in all aspects of patient care providing direct care, support, advocacy, and case management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing institutions and educators were not prepared for the rapid transition to remote learning that were enforced due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide shutdowns in the spring of 2020. This created new obstacles for both educators and nursing students and had a major impact on the students’ nursing education and preparation as health care professionals.

Purpose: The purpose of this research study was to explore the barriers and facilitators to pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing students’ educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: A qualitative descriptive design with the use of focus group interviews was employed for this study to elicit nursing students’ perceptions of their learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic among a medium sized university in Western, NY. Purposeful sampling was utilized, and participants self-selected to participate.

Findings: 17 nursing students self-selected to participate in this research study and were stratified by class level. Barriers and facilitators in learning were identified among all five stratified class levels in theory/nursing classes, skills lab, and clinical experience. Similar experiences among the nursing students were identified. Facilitators in theory included decrease workload, increase flexibility, good communication among nursing faculty, and the use of pre-recorded lectures with online learning. Facilitators in skills lab were attributed to increased flexibility of testing out lab skills, and decreased class sizes. Facilitators in clinical were attributed to the ability to care for real patients and the clinical instructors. Barriers in theory included increased distractions, increased self-teaching, professors’ inability to adapt to the online learning environment, Proctorio software with online examination, and lack of resources. Barriers in skills lab were closely related to no on-campus instruction, and the lack of open lab hours or simulation experiences. The barriers identified within the clinical environment included the lack of handson experience due academic closures, the lack of observation experience in specialty areas, and the inability to care for COVID-19 positive patients.

Conclusions: This study sought to identify the barriers and facilitators to pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing students’ educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both positive and negative learning experiences were expressed by the participating students among all three learning environments. This current study adds to the current body of knowledge as it identified the barriers and facilitators of prelicensure baccalaureate nursing students’ educational experiences during the current COVID-19 pandemic and can be used to develop new teaching modalities, or change ineffective ones, for future scenarios where abrupt transitions in learning occur.