Francisco Cruz-Vázquez,1 María Esmeralda Bellido-Castaños1
1Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Zaragoza, Secretaría de Integración, Promoción y Desarrollo Académico. Ciudad de México, México
Correspondence: Francisco Cruz-Vázquez
Received: April 4th 2016
Judged: June 17th 2016
Accepted: October 10th 2016
Introduction: Studies of graduates are a tool by which educational institutions investigate the impact of their educational offer in the labor market. With their findings, these institutions feed back their syllabuses, their educational programs and their teacher training programs.
Objective: To describe the academic, professional and career paths and the opinion on professional training obtained by graduates of the Nursing School of the Facultad de Estudios Superiores Zaragoza.
Methods: A descriptive study was conducted with an intentional cross nonrandom sample of 128 graduates who completed their studies in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The study variables were: academic path, professional path, career path and accumulated professional experience. Data were processed with descriptive statistics. For data collection a questionnaire consisting of 50 items validated by academic peers was applied.
Results: 44% of graduates are certified, 77% are unemployed and 88% report that their work is largely consistent with their undergraduate studies.
Conclusions: A high percentage of graduates surveyed is not certified; however, most of them work in the nursing field and valued positively the acquired vocational training.
Keywords: Nursing students; Nursing; Career mobility
In university organizations, evaluation is an inescapable activity, as it allows the relevance of curricula and curricula, their training processes, and the correspondence of social needs with the institutional project to be assessed. Studies on exiting students contribute significantly to this task. At present, these studies have become a common activity, since the information they provide enables higher education institutions (HEI) to orient their policies, to identify achievements, but also the state of undesired aspects so that corrective actions based on available resources and resources can be designed and implemented. Likewise, these studies are considered an evaluation tool that provides valuable information about professional practice and at the same time, they become a channel of communication between the university and its exiting students.1
In the same vein, studies on exiting students constitute a diagnostic mechanism that provides elements for reflection on academic activities developed, satisfaction of exiting students with regard to the professional training acquired, and judgments and recommendations they can issue on their training process. They have also proved to be a valuable tool for deepening knowledge of the relationship between higher education and the labor market.
The studies about exiting students are conceptualized as the medium in which HEIs investigate the placement and professional and academic development of their exiting students in the market, in order to evaluate not only the relevance and quality of their educational offer but also provide timely feedback plans and curricula of teacher training that provide a professional profile of quality, according to the requirements of society and an increasingly competitive labor market.2
In this context, the exiting student is an important source of feedback, while allowing the university to know where and how they are placed, their social and economic role, and the way to reflect values acquired during training.
According to the basic scheme for studies on graduates of the Asociación Nacional de Universidades e Instituciones de Educación Superior (ANUIES), a graduate is the student who, having accredited 100% of the subjects of a curriculum, is awarded the corresponding certificate. And a graduate with a title is one who has obtained the corresponding degree in accordance with the requirements and procedures set by the institution in which they studied.
ANUIES recommends that studies on exiting students take place between three and six years after the students leave the study program.2 It also proposes that the following aspects be addressed: the opinion of exiting students on the vocational training acquired in relation to the relevance of the quality of teaching received in the university; their insertion in the labor market and placement and professional performance to account for the impact that university education has on the labor market.3 With the implementation of these studies, professional efficiency based on the training received, acceptance in the labor market, and the relationship between social needs with the educational project can be assessed in greater depth. Additionally, we can account not only for the fulfillment of the functions of the educational institution, but also on the way education goals and institutional goals are being achieved.4
In some universities of international and national scope studies have been conducted on the exiting students of the nursing program and aspects recommended by ANUIES have been addressed. Such is the cases in Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela,5 Universidad de Costa Rica,6 the universities of Cartagena and Caldas of Colombia,7,8 or in Mexico, at Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala,9 Universidad Autónoma de Guanajuato,10 Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala Chihuahua,11 the Escuela Nacional de Enfermería y Obstetricia12,13 and the Facultad de Estudios Superiores Zaragoza (FES Zaragoza)14 of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Studies about exiting students that have been conducted in these universities have addressed the pertinence of the academic formation of the nursing program with sociolaboral context, the situation of exiting students in the labor market, professional performance and exiting students’ opinion of the curricula, as well as the congruence of the latter with labor requirements.
Conducting studies on exiting students is a fundamental tool for nursing schools and faculties, since it places importance on the coherence between training received and work performance, establishing indicators regarding quality and efficiency of nursing schools, and on making educational planning decisions about programs that constitute the curricula.15
Based on this context, the nursing program of FES Zaragoza maintains a direct and permanent link with exiting students, and in order to offer professional training consistent with the requirements of the labor market and social needs, it plans and implements strategies that contribute to students' vocational training. One of the strategies it employs is the Proyecto de Seguimiento de Egresados y Estudios de Empleadores, which, among other variables, raises the need to permanently investigate in the exiting classes to come, the academic, professional, and laboral trajectory and opinion on the acquired vocational training.
Based on the above, the present research was carried out with exiting students of the nursing program of FES Zaragoza, exiting classes that concluded their studies in the years 2009; 2010; and 2011, with the objective of describing the academic, professional, and laboral trajectory and opinion on vocational training acquired.
Jiménez tells us that for Buontempo, the word "trajectory" refers to the different stages of the person's life in education and in the labor market, after completing training in a profession or entering the market.16,17
Vargas points out that the trajectory is the "succession of development activities that imply a formal and informal education, training, and work experience that lead the individual to positions of greater hierarchy."
Therefore, the term academic and professional trajectory refers to the studies that the exiting students engages in after the undergraduate degree program and to the coherence of their studies with the positions that they assume in the labor market.
In relation to the career trajectory, Henríquez defines it as "the successive positions that people occupy in labor relationships, during their life or, more frequently, during a certain period of it."18
According to Orejuela, trajectory is "the particular path that an individual follows in the sociolabor space, which describes the successive positions that they have occupied over time since insertion in the labor market."19
Thus, the career trajectory refers to jobs performed and the relationship with one's profession.
Regarding vocational training, Casanova20 defines it as an activity whose purpose is to discover and develop human skills for an active, productive, and satisfactory life, and also affirms that vocational training is simultaneously three things:
Officials of the Instituto Nacional de Educación Tecnológica del Ministerio de Educación de Argentina (2001) defined professional training as the set of systematized learning modalities, designed to give individuals with opportunities for personal, laboral, and community growth by providing them with education and sociocultural training.21
Jiménez tells us that "the academic training provided by the institution is considered by exiting students as the base that allows them to enter to perform certain functions, to later acquire work experience materialized in cognitive and social skills and which is also one of the aspects that receives more attention in studies on trajectories or follow-up of graduates."16
In general, vocational training refers to the knowledge, skills, abilities, values, and attitudes that the student obtains in the program of study and the relevance of such training to social and labor market requirements.
With the study of these variables, it is possible to identify the correspondence between educational offerings and the labor market. The results of these investigations will not only motivate the transformation of plans and programs of study but also the programs of teacher training, the requirements of the labor market and the offering of organized answers that satisfy the health needs of the population.
The FES Zaragoza nursing program needs to consolidate the curriculum updating process by incorporating the pertinence of academic training as a key element of the quality of the study program so that exiting students are not only reproducers of knowledge, but competent, autonomous, and innovative critics who contribute to the transformation of their environment and provide a health service of the highest quality to the population.5
With descriptive cross-sectional study22 of a population of 640 exiting students of the FES Zaragoza nursing program, a nonprobabilistic convenience sample was estimated for 128 exiting students. Exiting students of both sexes of the exiting class of years 2009; 2010; and 2011; who were willing to participate in the study were included.
The study variables were academic trajectory, career trajectory, professional trajectory, and acquired professional training. Academic background refers to the degree and other studies that the exiting students had after the degree. Career trajectory represents the positions held in the labor market. Professional trajectory is the relationship of the graduate's studies with the positions that they assume in the market and acquired professional formation; to have the knowledge, skills, abilities, values, and attitudes that a student obtains in the program of study and the relevance of such training to the requirements of the labor market.
The collection of information was carried out with the application of a questionnaire structured in five segments. The first forms the identification card of the graduate, with three open and one multiple choice single answer questions. The second and third segments are related to the academic trajectory, and they include questions related to the undergraduate degree and other studies. They are composed of three open-ended and five multiple choice single answer questions. The fourth segment corresponds to the professional trajectory and work experience and includes 24 multiple choice questions. Finally, the fifth segment, organized by four open questions and 10 multiple choice with single answer, is regarding opinion about the acquired vocational training. The questionnaire consisted of 50 questions, of which 10 were open response and 40 were multiple choice. The variables were evaluated with qualitative values, from a maximum to a null value with Likert scale: none, little, somewhat, much, and very much.
The first version of the instrument was validated through the judgement of five FES Zaragoza academic peers who were experts in the field. Based on the recommendations issued, the instrument was corrected and the pilot test was carried out. The questionnaires were answered when the exiting students went to the faculty to do school procedures, at the annual meeting of exiting students, in their places of work, and to a lesser extent by email. Data were processed using the statistical package SPSS, version 17.0 for descriptive statistical analysis.
The investigation was carried out with the informed consent of the participants. In this regard, they were informed that their participation was voluntary with the possibility of requesting their departure. Each participant was also informed of the nature and purpose of the research and the fact that the data would be handled confidentially and anonymously was emphasized.
88% of the exiting students were between 25 and 34 years of age. 77% were women and 23% men. Of the total, 66% were single; 20% married; 12% co-habitated with their partner; and 2% were divorced.
97% of the exiting students received a score between 80 and 100 at the end of the program of study. Regarding the academic trajectory of the exiting students, 44% received a degree (57); of which 58% opted for the general examination of knowledge; 12% received a degree with a thesis; 9% did postgraduate studies (specialty or masters degree); 7% took a increased knowledge test (diploma); 10% wrote social service report and had total credits; and 4% graduated with a global research paper and research scholarship (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Graduation options students exiting the undegraduate nursing program (n=57). Source: Exiting students 2015 questionnaire
56% of exiting students (71) did not graduate due to lack of orientation, lack of language accreditation, lack of financial resources, disagreements with the thesis director, or not having performed social service, among other reasons.
Some 67% and 82% of graduates and non-graduates, respectively, reported not having completed postgraduate studies (Table I). After exiting this program, 33% of the total graduates and 18% of non-graduates, respectively, continued with their studies. Of this group, 31% corresponded to diploma programs; 23% to specialization; 20% to post-technical courses; 17% to refresher courses; and 9% to master's degrees. Most of the courses were taken at UNAM (Figure 2).
|Table I. Relationship of graduation and post-graduate studies to the undegraduate nursing program|
|Graduates (n=57)||Non-graduates (n=71)|
|Realized further study||19||33||13||18|
|Did not realize further study||38||67||58||82|
|Source: Exiting students 2015 questionnaire
Figure 2. Studies after exiting the undegraduate nursing program (n=32). Source: Exiting students 2015 questionnaire
Regarding the exiting students' perception of the usefulness of additional studies for their current jobs; 67% stated that refresher courses had a regular degree of utility; 28.5% stated that there was a high and outstanding utility for post-technical courses; 27.2% and 45.4% stated that the diploma was very useful and outstanding; 25% and 50% expressed that specialty studies have an outstanding and very outstanding degree of utility; 67% of exiting students said that master's has an outstanding degree of utility. Regarding exiting students' interest in continuing education activities, specialization was an option for 34.2%; diploma programs for 28.5%; master's and doctorates for 17.1% and 8.5%, and refresher courses for 11.4%.
Of the total number of graduates (n=57), 91% are employed and for the non-graduates that number is 66% (n=71) (Table II). Before graduating, 32.3% already had work; 46.4% were employed in between one and six months; 14.1% in between seven and twelve months; and 7% took over a year to find a job. Regarding the requirement requests of employing institutions for admission to the workplace, 99% of the exiting students took the specific knowledge area examination; 90% had a formal interview; and 74% performed the psychometric examination. Regarding documentation, 80% of the exiting students were asked for a degree and government-issued professional seal.
|Table II. Studies after exiting the undegraduate nursing program|
|Graduates (n=57)||Non-graduates (n=71)|
|Source: Exiting students 2015 questionnaire
In the exiting students' opinion, factors that influenced their gaining employment were the acceptance of the nursing program of study in the labor market, rated by 59% as very good and by 24.2% as outstanding; relevance of the academic institution's prestige, which 35.4% referred to as high and 44.4% as outstanding; and the skills acquired in the program of study, which 47.5% rated as very good and 27.3% as outstanding.
97% of the exiting students got jobs in the health sector, of which 72% were in public and 28% in private institutions. In the case of public institutions, 33.3% worked in the Secretaría de Salud (SS); 19.2% in the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS); 7.1% in the Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSSTE); and 40.4% in other units. The proportion of exiting students who worked in the second and third levels of care (45.4% and 38.3%, respectively) was higher than 16.1% in the first level. The morning shift was prominent, in 50.5% of the exiting students, afternoon 27.2%, and night shift, 18.1%.
It should be noted that only 2% of the exiting students worked on their own, in contrast to the 52.5% who had a contract, and 45.5% who labored under other working conditions. More than 80% were general nurses (48.5%) and nursing assistants (33.4%), which accounted for 87% of the exiting students who performed care functions, particularly in medical-surgical care (50%). Others worked in pediatrics (11%); obstetrics and gynecology (10%); and public health (12%). As for economic remuneration, only 1% of the exiting students earned more than 20,000 pesos and half (50%) earned from 5001 to 10,000 pesos per month.
88% of the exiting students considered that their work coincided greatly and outstandingly with studies in the degree program, since they applied acquired knowledge, performed functions according to their profession, worked as a team, had expectations of professional development and visualized the possibility of carrying out their own ideas. They also received professional recognition, felt able to coordinate a work team, and respond to problems of social relevance, among others.
Vocational training acquired
Regarding vocational training and how it relates to knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values, 62% of the exiting students considered that the theoretical knowledge they acquired greatly supported their work performance and 28% stated that this knowledge supported in an outstanding way. In terms of multidisciplinary knowledge, 83% were of medical sciences and 70% of mental health. In disciplinary knowledge, the proportion was similar in 90% for nursing practices III, IV and V, as well as 89% for medical-surgical nursing I and II.
Exiting students reported that they acquired generic skills such as knowledge application (91%), organizational ability (90%), logical and analytical reasoning (85.2%), written communication (85.2%), and ability to relate to others (85.2%). Professional skills included holistic nursing care for individual and groups (90%), knowing how to apply methods, techniques and procedures, framed in nursing models and theories (88.3%), participation with multiprofessional team in the implementation of priority health programs directed at the population (74.2%), as well as intervene in planning and development of health education programs (70%). In addition, the exiting students reported having developed attitudes to take on responsibilities, commitment, interest in self improvement, initiative and willingness to learn, as well as various values such as honesty, human quality, solidarity, responsibility, and respect.
96.2% of the exiting students indicated that the nursing degree met their expectations. 87.5% stated that if they had to take undergraduate degree program again, they would choose the same program of study and 96.1% would enroll in FES Zaragoza again.
The population of exiting students is predominantly female, single, and relatively young in contrast to data from the 2012 exiting students study of the FES Zaragoza nursing program. The latter exiting class had a higher proportion of men and a lower proportion of women.14 In relation to the academic trajectory, the study showed that a higher percentage of exiting students had a good final average at the end of the program of study, however as far as receiving the degree, the greater percentage was non-graduating exiting students. Regarding this point, there is a difference with what was reported in 2009 by Muggenburg, who reports a greater proportion of exiting graduate students.12 Given this situation, it is prudent to attend to the motives of the exiting students and to identify other related factors in order to allow for flow in the graduation process.
Likewise, the proportion of exiting students who did not continue to study after finishing their degree is relevant. In their study for 2012, Bezies et al.1 related this fact to low wages, lack of job security, high costs of diploma programs and specialties, to the workload that limits time to continue with academic training, and the few possibilities of promotion. However, there is interest in specialization, master's, and diploma studies, as Carrera (2012)23 and García (2007),8 report that the processes of continuous training have revolved around short courses, diplomas, and specialties.
Based on the study by Bezies et al.,1 it is confirmed that most exiting students have jobs, which indicates that this program of study is in high demand in the Mexican labor market, as the Burgos and López study shows.24 Other similar findings report that the majority of exiting students work in public institutions in the health sector and enter the labor market as professional employees (general nurses).25 However, another study found that most of the exiting students were recruited as non-professional employees (nursing assistants).26 Another finding not consistent with the current study is that of Carmona et al.,14 who report that the labor placement of the exiting students by order of frequency is in second, first, and third levels of attention. It is assumed that the market is creating more jobs in the second and third levels of care, since they are levels that activate the economy, which does not happen in the first level of care. However, exiting students have the professional training to perform at any level of care in the health system.
As for the quality of theoretical training, studies by Muggenburg et al. (2008)13 and Carmona et al. (2012),14 report that 83% of exiting students believe the quality of theoretical training they receive supports their work performance. They also report that exiting students are more satisfied with the practical training of medical-surgical nursing I, nursing in growth and development, and pediatric nursing. This weighting by exiting students of the practical modules has been maintained for about five years. In relation to knowledge and skills, in the Bezies (2012),1 Rojas (2013)6 and Machaen (2016) studies,27 it is pointed out that the exiting students acquired sufficient knowledge and skills in the nursing program for their professional performance. On the other hand, the study by García (2007)8 states that several employers in the Colombian labor market recommend that nursing training should be strengthened with competencies to elaborate projects of processes and procedures, professional leadership, legal framework in health, labor competencies, and humanization before the system.