Approximately 1.6 million students will graduate from college this year (NACE, 2015), and many are talking about the employability of these students, the value of a college education, and even the rate of unemployment of recent graduates. And while many college graduates get jobs, some fields continue to struggle to fill positions. For instance, the demand for nurses in the United States has increased rapidly in recent years, and this growth is projected to continue well into the future. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses reports that, even with an enrollment increase of 2.6% for entry-level undergraduate nursing programs in 2013, the “increase is not sufficient to meet the projected demand for nursing services” (AACN, 2014). So it’s not surprising that nursing graduates are finding jobs and finding them quickly.
According to results from the 2013-2014 AACN/BenchworksUndergraduate Nursing Exit Assessment from Skyfactor, 28% of nursing students had already accepted a position and another one-third had job offers. On the alumni survey, 41% of alumni reported that they had accepted a full-time position by graduation, another 33% found one in less than 3 months, and an additional 14% found one within 6 months. In total, an astonishing nine out of ten nursing students are finding a job in their field within six months of graduation.
These students are finding jobs quickly after graduation, but how prepared are they?
Three-fourths of students indicated that their nursing program had taught them to demonstrate accountability for their own actions, honor the rights of patients to make decisions about their health care, and act as an advocate for vulnerable patients. The majority of respondents also said their nursing programs taught them to provide physical and emotional support, assist patients, communicate with healthcare professionals, and a variety of other nursing-specific skills and knowledge. In short, nursing students are confident they are well-prepared for their new jobs.
Finally, not only are nursing students’ well-prepared, they are also quite satisfied with their overall experiences in their programs. Nearly half of students reported that they were very satisfied with their academic advisor and 43% reported being satisfied with the ability of their peers. Overall, six out of ten students reported that they are both being challenged to do their best academic work, and the majority said the program provided a positive academic experience and would recommend their program to a close friend. Overall, nursing programs are earning high marks from the students who complete them.
While a closer look at this data shows some areas for potential improvement, nursing programs can be satisfied in knowing that generally their graduates achieve learning outcomes, attribute this learning to their programs, are satisfied with their overall experience, and are finding jobs quickly after graduation.