Clinical Experiences Of Final-Year Nursing Students In Four Selected Nursing Schools During The First Wave Of The COVID-19 Pandemic In Guyana. A Mixed Study

Introduction: COVID-19 is the most devastating pandemic the world has faced in the 21st century. The pandemic has offered unprecedented challenges of increased demands for nursing staff. Health care professionals and trainees experienced enormous psychological pressure during the early months of the outbreak. Purpose: To investigate the clinical experiences of final-year nursing students in four selected Nursing schools during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana, using a mixed study design. Methods: This study used a mixed-method design and a purposive and convenience sample of 157 final-year
nursing students from four selected nursing schools in Guyana. Researchers administered a pre-tested online survey and seven focus group interviews. Survey data was analyzed using SPSS (version 28). Thematic analysis was used to analyze the interview data. Results: Findings revealed that 82.8% of the participants feared contracting coronavirus, 58% felt depressed, and 56.7% felt insecure daily. Study data showed that 70.7% were financially burdened, 58% needed PPE,
and 80.9% felt unsafe in the clinical areas. Results indicated that 71.3% received no help. Positive experiences revealed that 91.7% did not take leave intentionally, and 74.5% felt confident. In coping experience, 75.2% utilized spiritual support, and 69.4% sought information. Thematic analysis revealed
emotional challenges such as stigmatization, learning in fear, and mental stress. The structural challenges reported were staff shortage, shortage of PPE, absence of risk allowance, and disaster planning. Nursing students encountered emotional, structural, and financial challenges in clinical placements during the pandemic. These challenges must be addressed to equip them for the future.