Objective: To explore in a sample of school nurses (SN) in California the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on school nurse health services, how school nurses mitigated the impact of COVID-19, and moral distress levels among school nurses.
Design and methods: Nineteen (N = 19) school nurses who work in K-12 schools in California, USA participated in a mixed-methods approach involving qualitative descriptive design, inductive content analysis, and descriptive statistics. Interviews were conducted in August and September 2021.
Results: Five themes emerged: (1) role of the SN during the COVID-19 pandemic, (2) coordination with school administration, (3) COVID-19 related challenges and disruptions to care, (4) moral distress, and (5) coping during the pandemic.
Conclusion: The pandemic had a profound impact on school nurses. This study provides school nurse perspectives of the impact of COVID-19 on services they delivered, the unique skills of school nurses essential to mitigation strategies, and moral distress school nurses encountered during the pandemic. Understanding the important role school nurses had during the pandemic is paramount to fully contextualize the contributions they made within public health nursing practice and inform preparedness for future pandemics.
Keywords: mixed-methods research; moral distress; pandemic; school nurse.
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