Bauman Z. Modernity and the Holocaust.Cambridge: Polity Press; 1989

Bauman Z, Donskis L. Moral blindness: the loss of sensitivity in liquid modernity.Cambridge: Polity Press; 2013

Gray DE. Doing research in the real world, 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications; 2014

Health and Safety Executive. Statistics: industries. 2022. (accessed 17 January 2022)

Kane C, Wareing M, Rintakorpi E. The psychological effects of working in the NHS during a pandemic on final-year students: part 1. Br J Nurs. 2021; 30:(22)1303-1307

Royal College of Nursing employment survey 2017. 2017. (accessed 13 January 2022)

Maslach C, Schaufeli WB, Leiter MP. Job burnout. Annu Rev Psychol. 2001; 52:(1)397-422

Maslach C, Leiter MP, Schaufeli W. Measuring burnout. In: Cartwright S, Cooper CL (eds). Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2008

Morley G, Bradbury-Jones C, Ives J. What is ‘moral distress’ in nursing? A feminist empirical bioethics study. Nurs Ethics. 2020; 27:(5)1297-1314

Mullins LJ. Management & organisational behaviour, 10th edn. Harlow: Pearson; 2013

Mutambudzi M, Niedzwiedz C, Macdonald EB Occupation and risk of severe COVID-19: prospective cohort study of 120 075 UK Biobank participants. Occup Environ Med. 2021; 78:(5)307-314

The courage of compassion: Supporting nurses and midwives to deliver high quality care. 2020. (accessed 13 January 2022)

Wolf LA, Perhats C, Delao AM ‘It's a burden you carry’: describing moral distress in emergency nursing. J Emerg Nurs. 2016; 42:(1)37-46

The psychological effects of working in the NHS during a pandemic on final-year students: part 2

27 January 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 2


This study explored the psychological experience of a small cohort of nursing and midwifery students who had been deployed to work in the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students were employed on band 4 contracts within an acute NHS Trust in the South of England. Overall, students found the experience of being deployed into clinical practice during a major public health emergency a valuable and unique experience that strengthened their resilience. However, students reported a significant level of personal obligation to opt-in to deployment. Working within clinical areas caused heightened anxiety and uncertainty, which was alleviated by managerial support.

At the time of writing, more than 151 342 people within the UK have died from the coronavirus within 28 days of a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 infection, with 174 233 deaths recorded with COVID-19 on a death certificate. At the peak of the pandemic in January 2021, 39 250 patients were admitted to hospital ( Healthcare workers have had more than a seven-fold higher risk of severe COVID-19 in comparison with the general population, whereas those working in social care and transport occupations have had a two-fold higher risk, with non-white essential workers being at the highest risk of severe infection (Mutambudzi et al, 2021).

This article tentatively suggests that a relationship exists between being a nursing or midwifery student deployed during a public health emergency, the experience of delivering healthcare during a pandemic, and the level of moral distress experienced by students who deployed into clinical practice. A key characteristic of the moral distress experienced by participants in this study related to the sense of obligation they felt when making their deployment decision.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content