Depths of the Ocean: Lived Experiences of Parent Student Nurses during COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:Parent-students, pandemic, challenges, coping
The landscape of higher education is witnessing an upward trend in parent-students' enrolment, representing a pivotal juncture where they can adeptly balance two distinct responsibilities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Parent-students shoulder heightened financial responsibilities compared to their childless peers, often necessitating additional employment to sustain themselves and their families while pursuing their academic pursuits. This study delved into the nuanced lived experiences of parent-student nurses as they navigate these multifaceted challenges amid the pandemic.
Employing a qualitative approach rooted explicitly in Husserlian phenomenology, this research shed light on the intricate narratives of parent-student nurses grappling with their dual roles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Purposive sampling was utilized to select ten participants whose stories would encapsulate the diverse facets of this experience. Data collection took place in February 2022 after gaining approval from the Ethics Review Board. The ensuing data was meticulously subjected to thematic analysis to unearth the underlying patterns and dimensions of their experiences.
The study unearthed a range of themes that intricately portrayed the journey of these parent-student nurses. Participants likened their experiences to various zones within the depths of an ocean, metaphorically reflecting the ebb and flow of emotions that accompany different stages of their personal and academic revelations. Four primary themes emerged, each mirroring a unique psychological and emotional state:
The Abyss Zone: Here, participants described feeling engulfed by the challenges posed by the pandemic. This zone represented the lowest depths of their experiences, where the weight of their responsibilities and the persistence of the pandemic seemed to overwhelm them.
The Midnight Zone: This theme encapsulated the participants' isolation and darkness. The demands of both parenting and education often left them feeling alone in their struggle, akin to navigating the profound darkness of midnight.
The Twilight Zone: Within this zone, participants shared moments of equilibrium where they found solace in small victories and occasional breaks from turbulence. It symbolized the in-between space where a glimmer of hope and balance could be glimpsed.
The Sunlight Zone: The final theme encompassed the emergence of positivity and growth. As they grappled with their dual obligations, participants began to surface, armed with newfound realizations. This zone portrayed their journey towards resilience and adaptation.
Implications and Recommendations
The study underscores the necessity of recognizing the unique challenges faced by parent-student nurses, particularly in the context of academic requirements. Tailored considerations such as flexible submission deadlines and mental breaks are recommended to facilitate their meaningful class participation while navigating their parenting responsibilities. These accommodations can significantly enhance their educational experiences during this demanding phase.
Considering the complexity revealed in this study, there is a call for further exploration into the aspects that should have been covered. Research avenues could delve into the impact of support networks, institutional policies, and psychological interventions on the experiences of parent-student nurses. A more holistic understanding can be attained by comprehensively investigating these areas, thus contributing to developing targeted strategies to bolster the well-being and success of this unique student demographic.