Challenges faced by new nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic

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7 Scopus citations


Introduction: COVID-19 can be considered a unique and complex form of trauma with potentially devastating consequences for nurses in general and new nurses specifically. Few studies have been published that explain how relatively new nurses were prepared for COVID-19 in terms of knowledge and skill and how these nurses fared physically and emotionally. Design: A qualitative descriptive design utilizing purposive sampling to recruit a diverse group of nurses who were within 2 years post-graduation from nursing school. Methods: In-depth interviews of 29 nurses were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide to elicit data, which was coded and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Six main themes and multiple subthemes were identified in the data. The main themes were: “We were not prepared,” “I was just thrown in,” “Avoiding infection,” “It was so sad,” “We did the best we could,” and “I learned so much.”. Conclusion: The nurses who participated in this study expressed fear, weariness, exhaustion, isolation, and distress, observations echoed by studies from other countries. Retention of new nurses in acute care settings has always been a concern. In the recent Current Population Survey, a 4% reduction in nurses under 35 years of age has been reported, imperiling the retention of an effective workforce for decades to come. Clinical Relevance: A recent report suggests that a larger than expected number of young nurses have left the profession in the wake of the pandemic. Staff shortages threaten the ability of the remaining nurses to do their jobs. This is the time to listen to the needs of new nurses to retain them in the profession and to avoid an even greater shortage in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-786
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing


  • COVID-19
  • acute care hospitals
  • nurses
  • pandemic


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