Moving forward the Italian nursing education into the post-pandemic era: findings from a national qualitative research study

BMC Med Educ. 2023 Jun 19;23(1):452. doi: 10.1186/s12909-023-04402-1.


Background: During the CoronaVIrus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, nursing education has been dramatically transformed and shaped according to the restrictions imposed by national rules. Restoring educational activities as delivered in the pre-pandemic era without making a critical evaluation of the transformations implemented, may sacrifice the extraordinary learning opportunity that this event has offered. The aim of this study was to identify a set of recommendations that can guide the Italian nursing education to move forward in the post-pandemic era.

Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was undertaken in 2022-2023 and reported here according to the COnsolidated criteria for REporting Qualitative research guidelines. A network was established of nine Italian universities offering a bachelor's degree in nursing for a total of 6135 students. A purposeful sample of 37 Faculty Members, 28 Clinical Nurse Educators and 65 Students/new graduates were involved. A data collection was conducted with a form including open-ended questions concerning which transformations in nursing education had been implemented during the pandemic, which of these should be maintained and valued, and what recommendations should address the transition of nursing education in the post-pandemic era.

Results: Nine main recommendations embodying 18 specific recommendations have emerged, all transversally influenced by the role of the digital transformation, as a complementary and strengthening strategy for face-to-face teaching. The findings also suggest the need to rethink clinical rotations and their supervision models, to refocus the clinical learning aims, to pay attention towards the student community and its social needs, and to define a pandemic educational plan to be ready for unexpected, but possible, future events.

Conclusions: A multidimensional set of recommendations emerged, shaping a strategic map of action, where the main message is the need to rethink the whole nursing education, where digitalization is embodied. Preparing and moving nursing education forward by following the emerged recommendations may promote common standards of education and create the basis on for how to deal with future pandemic/catastrophic events by making ready and prepared the educational systems.

Keywords: COVID-19; Italy; Lessons learned; Nursing education; Pandemic; Post-pandemic era; Qualitative study.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Education, Nursing*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate* / methods
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Pandemics
  • Qualitative Research
  • Students, Nursing*