Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Kerry Nolte, PhD, FNP-C


Background: Higher education students, especially those studying nursing, faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many higher education institutions decided to transition their clinical experiences into a virtual, e-learning format (Chandratre, 2020). As an area of study with high levels of stress and anxiety to begin with, these emotions may have been exacerbated during the pandemic for those studying nursing. Sudden changes in clinical format caused increased anxiety levels in senior nursing students (García-Gonzalez et al., 2021). Graduating students are entering a workforce of healthcare workers who have battled the COVID-19 illness and exposed themselves and their families to this disease that has killed nearly one million people worldwide (COVID Data Tracker, 2022). The emotional burden of this disease has caused a tremendous impact on the mental health of current professionals within the healthcare sector. However, there is limited research focusing on nursing students of higher education and their experiences during the pandemic. This study seeks to understand nursing students’ levels of anxiety before and during the pandemic, as well as how their self-efficacy to perform nursing skills was impacted by transitioning into alternative educational experiences (telenursing, modules, online simulations, etc.).

Methods: This descriptive, quantitative study administered a survey to students of junior and senior class standing in a higher education nursing department in New Hampshire. This resulted in a sample of 50 survey respondents who met inclusion criteria, with 35% junior class standing and 65% of seniors. Pearson correlation and t-tests were performed to compare variables, depending on data being analyzed.

Results: There was an increase between mean pre-COVID and mean during COVID anxiety levels (t(49)=6.075, p=<0.001). Students mean pre-COVID anxiety scores were 5.7, whereas mean during COVID anxiety scores were 9.4. There was no correlation between mean anxiety scores and number of hours substituted by alternative educational experiences. Students reported having the greatest number of clinical hours substituted by alternative educational experiences in semester of Spring 2020, with a mean hour substitution of 50.14. There was no correlation with mean self-efficacy scores and the number of hours substituted by alternative educational experiences. However, the self-efficacy in listening to lung sounds had a negative correlation with increasing number of hours substituted by alternative educational experiences (r = -.30, p=<0.05).

Conclusion: There was a drastic increase in anxiety from pre-COVID to during COVID for undergraduate nursing students. There was limited statistical correlation between the variables being analyzed, but students’ self-reported scores for both anxiety and self-efficacy of skills is important to take note of. Data obtained from this study can be utilized by higher education institutions and healthcare organizations, as it provides information on students’ self-efficacy in performing foundational nursing skills.

Included in

Nursing Commons