Untitled Document



Socio-economic and cultural profile of undergraduate students in the undergraduate nursing course


Norma Valéria Dantas de Oliveira SouzaI; Lucia Helena Garcia PennaII; Luana dos Santos CunhaIII; Amanda Almeida Sant'anna BaptistaIV; Iraneide Ferreira MafraV; Debora Cristina Almeida Mariano BernardinoVI

IAdjunct Professor Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, Coordinator of Nursing Specialization Course in Stoma therapy. Vice-Director State University Faculty of Nursing of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. E-mail: norval_souza@yahoo.com.br
IIAdjunct Professor, Department of Maternal and Child Nursing. Adjunct Coordinator of the graduate Program in Nursing and Coordinator of the Nucleus for Extension. Faculty of Nursing, State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Brazil. E-mail: luciapenna@terra.com.br
IIIProfessor of Technical Course in Occupational Safety at the Federal Center of Technological Education Celso Suckow da Fonseca. Specialist Nurse in the Nursing Work by Fluminense Federal University (UFF). Master in Nursing from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Brazil. E-mail: luanauffenf@hotmail.com
IVNurse of the Hospital of Sanitary Dermatology from the State of Rio de Janeiro - Brazil. Nurse of the Family Health Strategy. Post-graduate degrees in Nursing in Stoma Therapy by the Faculty of Nursing at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Brazil E-mail: neidemafra.l@hotmail.com
VNurse of the State Hospital Adam Pereira Nunes (HEAPN).Nurse post graduated in Health Strategy by Specialization Course in Family Health at Fluminense Federal University (UFF). Brazil. E-mail: dinhasantanna@hotmail.com
VINurse post graduated in Nursing Work. Master's Degree Student of the Master Program in Health Care Sciences at Fluminense Federal University (UFF). Brazil. E-mail: dcamariano@hotmail.com




This is a descriptive study with a quantitative approach, whose objectives were to delineate and analyze the socio-economic and cultural profile of freshman students of the nursing course at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.  The participants were students of the first period of the undergraduate course in 2008/1, 2008/2 and 2009/1. The data were collected through questionnaires, which were responded by 97 students corresponding to 80.80 % of the population of 120 freshman students. The results were analyzed by simple statistical means, evidencing that the freshmen are teenagers and in majority women.  It was observed that among the participants, 12.50% have no basic sanitation and represent a low family income. By contrast, 98.97% has easy access to the Internet. This is regarded as a favorable factor in teaching-learning processes. But factors such as low family income and lack of basic sanitation have to be interpreted as worrying data, which need to be transformed.

Keywords : Nursing; education; teaching; curriculum, higher education.




In 1996, the Faculty of Nursing at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (ENF/UERJ) deployed a Political-Pedagogical Project of innovative character, aiming to break with the traditional pedagogical methodology, in which the student is considered a receptacle of knowledge, uncritical and with few possibilities to promote changes in their social context. For this reason, the ENF/UERJ appropriated another paradigm of teaching-learning to guide its teaching practice: the Critical Theory of Education, based upon Problematizing Pedagogy, that proposes principles of redirection of the pedagogical practice1.

The curricular changes, in turn, assume constant evaluation of their results. In this perspective, the Faculty of Nursing has been constantly discussing the fruits of such changes. Studies with the graduates of the institution were developed, so as to promote the design of their profile and to assess the contributions of teaching to the reality of the world of work2.

However, in the midst of the discussions on the evaluation of their curriculum, the need emerged to carry out investigations with the population of undergraduate students in undergraduate course of this Educational Institution as well. For this reason it selected as the object of study: the socio-economic and cultural profile of freshmen at the Undergraduate Nursing Course of the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

 It is believed that the University hosts a wide variety of people, even stemming from other regions of the country with significant differences. This cultural and socio-economical heterogeneity of freshmen implies difficulties in adapting to prospects of teaching-learning different from the ones they know, which are developed in most institutions of elementary and middle education in the country.

The knowledge of the socio-economic and cultural profiles of freshmen with ENF/UERJ facilitates the proposal of changes in political-pedagogical projects of the institution. Thus adapting them to the learning process, once the vision about the socio-economic and cultural difficulties freshmen necessarily lead to elaboration of measures and strategies that aim to provide support for the feasibility of a process of professional training that takes into account subjective factors and goals of learners and the institution.          
In this perspective, proposed objectives of this study are to outline and analyze the cultural and socioeconomic profile of freshmen of the undergraduate nursing course at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.



The Critical Theory of Education, characterized by integration, totality, interdisciplinarity and new conception of theory/practice2, emerges from the historical-critical approach of education, being innovative for its challenges. This way of teaching and learning seeks to overcome the fragmented vision of man and train critical and reflexive nurses, with a historical-social vision, with a better ability to respond to the challenges imposed by health practice and demands of society.

In spite of the contemporary Nursing education that worries about humanistic, reflective and philosophical issues related to construction of knowledge and of being in the world, it was also observed that the predominant pedagogical vision focusses on techniques. Even realizing curricular changes that include the training of nurses facing ethical issues and technical-scientific care, little value is given to the realization of political projects that seek to pedagogically form critical, reflective and active nurses participating in situations of health of the population3.

In this perspective, and in the face of the complexity of the training of health professionals, the mission of the ENF/UERJ is the commitment to the training of citizen-nurses, knowledgeable of the problems of their State, by means of teaching, research and extension activities, to more adequately meet the health needs of society. This responsibility extends beyond the purely technical, requiring something more in favor of the world and of life.

The construction of new curricular proposals will also consider the current demands of the world of work. The contemporary capitalism requires multiple and complex powers of the professional, such as the versatility, flexibility, initiative, adaptability, creativity, innovation, among other abilities that has been placing in questioning the traditional ways of teaching4.

Therefore, increasingly, it requires that the nurse is prepared to deal with the complexities of "caring", which involve a process of continuous learning, creativity and innovation, ethical commitment and humanization of assistance, with the aim enabling her to produce health in a collective perspective5.

To preserve the social value of the work, consonance between the purposes of educational apparatus and the world of work is prominent. In health care, and particularly in nursing, the world of work, coupled with the health/disease situation of the population and the professional specialization, directly influence  the guidelines that the health system must determine, as well as the training and qualification of professionals of the area6.7.



It was a descriptive-exploratory study, with a quantitative approach. The study was developed at the Faculty of Nursing at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, with scholars of the first period of the undergraduate course.

For data collection questionnaires with closed questions to socio-economic and cultural circumstances were distributed over a population of 120 freshmen in the first and second semesters of the school year of 2008 and the first half of 2009, with the cut sample of 97 students, which corresponded to 80.8% of the referred population.

It is worth pointing out that it was not possible to work with all academics in the years mentioned above due to the absences of the learners, in the days reserved for data collection, whether by illness or other reasons.

After approval by the research Ethics Committee, through the opinion of number 2345-CEP, the phase of data collection was developed by means of approach to learners in the scenario of their educational institution. Respecting the ethical principles of Resolution 196/96 of the National Health Council8, the freshman have formalized their acceptance to participate in the study by signing the Free and Informed Consent form.

The questionnaires were distributed, and after a certain period were collected, sometimes even on the same day, so as to avoid loss of data.

The data then were analyzed by means of simple statistics. Simple frequency tables represent the results allowing for the seizure of the prevalence and significance of the data collected.



Of the 97 freshmen who responded to the questionnaire, 89 (91,75 %) were female. The male gender accounted for 8 (8.25 %) tickets. Although there is growing increase of this kind in nursing, this remains as eminently feminine, because despite the time that has elapsed since its appearance until the current days, there is still a considerable percentage of women that integrates and search the nursing profession, as evidenced by these numbers.

The idea of providing care and protection is part of the female history. With it come domestic duties, caretaking, education of children, caring of the elderly and sick of the family. By extension, the care of the patient also began to be women's work, since it demands similar tasks. The acts of feeding, bathing, protecting, administering medications, that is caring for  the customer, began to be task of woman-nurse, a fact which remains strongly rooted in their profession, socially and culturally characterizing it as an eminently feminine profession9.

The age of respondents ranged between 18 and 20 years. This result indicates that the majority of freshmen is at the stage of adolescence. This requires of teachers at the Institution the skill and competence to deal with this population, understanding the specific characteristics of the age group.

According to the Ministry of Health, adolescence is a phase of profound transformations in body, mind and in the form of social relationship of the individual. It is the stage of life in which the sexual maturation occurs, the escalade of family conflicts and the process of formation and crystallization of attitudes, values and behaviors that will determine the future life of the individual; it is in adolescence that begin the levying of greater responsibilities and the definition of the professional future10. In this way, the teacher aware of this context of life should seek strategies for teaching and interpersonal approach, enabling the teaching-learning process with this population that demands special attention.

As far as the form of entry into university, 45 (46.39 %) of the participants were benefited by the system of reservation of vacancies, which includes blacks, indigenous people and public school students, all with proven financial need. This system, sanctioned by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro, in December of 2008 (Law 5346), covers black, indigenous people, students from the public school network, people with disabilities, in accordance with the legislation, the sons of military and civil police, firefighters and safety inspectors and penitentiary administration, dead or incapacitated by reason of service11. It is worth noting that, by racial term, only 20 (20, 62 %) consider themselves black.

The results also showed that 47 (49.47 %) of the freshmen were for the greater part enrolled from middle school education at private schools. It seems to be a peculiar characteristic of students from private institutions to join the faculty thus ending the middle school, whereas graduates of private schools opt to pay immediately the vestibular exam at the end of middle school, granting rapid entry into universities. On the other hand, academics coming from public schools need initially to be absorbed by the labor market due to economic needs and later plan entrance into a university. In addition, it was observed that the students of public schools need strengthening educational courses in pre-vestibular12.

It was found that 51 (52.58%) of the 97 respondents live with their parents. This implies, in principle, an exemption of responsibilities to assume the costs and the daily tasks related to dynamic house holding, favoring that freshmen have more time available for the studies. However, this inference needs further research to prove its validity.

In relation to the region where they live 41 (42.3 %) 7-8 reside in the Northern District, not far from the university. This location favors the trajectory of graduating the Institution, enabling less financial expenses with transportation, as well as rationalization of time pertaining to smallest displacement, which favors the learning.

A relative number of academics, 12 (12.50 %) reported not having adequate sanitation in their homes. Of this total, it was found that 1 (8.3 %) live in the city of Nova Iguacu, 6 (50 %) reside in the city of São Gonçalo, 1 (8.3 %) in the city of Mendes, 1 (8.3 %) in the municipality of Engenheiro Paulo Fronten and 3 (25 %) of the participants did not specify the municipality.

These data are worrying, since the city of Rio de Janeiro is considered the second Brazilian metropolis in income and employment offer, and consequently, with higher wages and better conditions of life in relation to the rest of the country, which should include sewerage network to reach all13.

Although within the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro, over 95% of the population has access to the network of water and sewer, there are still regions in most underprivileged areas, without access to such resources14. The basic sanitation is fundamental to good health and quality of life of the population, interfering, in last instance with the teaching-learning process, the focus of interest of this study.

The most recent National Survey of Basic Sanitation (PNSB) about the sanitation conditions of all the 5,564 Brazilian municipalities, held in 2008, allowed an assessment of the supply and quality of services rendered, which led to the analysis of environmental conditions and their direct implications with the health and quality of life of the population15. According to this survey, there are scientific proofs that demonstrate implications between the conditions of sanitation and health and quality of life of persons16. Thus, it may be clear that a significant percentage of freshmen who establish themselves in unfavorable scenarios, such as those who do not have basic sanitation, become subject to harms in the teaching-learning process.

Another factor that also drew attention was the family income. It was found that 49 (30.47 %) of the freshmen had an income of up to three minimum wages, which currently corresponds to R$1,395.00. This income is considered unfavorable to confront the expenses related to the permanence of a student in higher education, because there are needs in transportation costs, food, didactic material and clothing.  It is observed that the rearrangements and the new possibilities of insertion of a familial component in the labor market, are resulting in a declining income and impoverishment of core household16. For this reason, it is necessary to promote the projects of research, extension, CRFs, focused on the provision of scholarships for freshman students, in addition to the construction of accommodation and canteens with free service, as well as the realization of a policy that protects the half waypoint of the university. All these strategies are fundamental to ensure the permanence of a student at the university, ensuring favorable conditions to the teaching-learning process.

On the situation of the maintenance of employment relationship or of the existence of a productive activity remunerated concomitantly with the frequency in undergraduate course, 15 (15.46 %) of the freshmen said they possess it. This situation is unfavorable for the student, because the course is given on a full-time basis, leading to the presumption that any labor activity is developed during the night or close to it, resulting in both rest compromised and a reduced availability of time required for the study.

A number of 47 (48.45 %) opted for nursing as first option shows a significant change in posture facing the professional choice for young people, because, previously, noted that almost the totality of respondents sought coursing to nursing after two or three attempts to join in other biomedical, careers and, not succeeding, switched to nursing. This option is also results from the students being unaware of the object of nursing work (care) and their professional duties17.

It was found that the freshmen have opted for nursing by understanding that it is a career that allows guaranteed entry into the labor market by encouraging, on the one hand, considerable social ascent and, on the other hand, ensuring the sensation of being able to be useful to the human being, to care. These records are also common in other studies in the field, when we consider the reasons for the choice of nursing as a profession17.18.

The study also investigated the access to the Internet by freshmen, obtaining a quantity of  96 (as against 98.97 %) with access to this type of service, being that 80 (83.30 %) of these students have access to the Internet at home and 16 (16,60 %) from places like house of friends, faculty, cybercafés.

This is a good thing, in that it refers to the quality of the teaching-learning process of freshmen, because the Internet facilitates fast access, dynamic and up to date knowledge, in addition to the convenience of getting information and the ease of processing knowledge. It is characterized as a technological innovation, in which millions of computers can be connected to globalize the divulgation of uninterrupted innovative information19.



In this study emerged the financial difficulties among freshmen, which demand the need for deployment of projects and strategies to ensure that their stays on course and to ensure that their professional skills. However, in spite of the financial difficulties, a significant portion of freshman students have access to the internet, seen as positive, for enabling the search for globalized knowledge, favoring the quality of teaching.

The fact of the large percentage of freshmen representing a young population suggests an important potential transformation of theoretical-practical knowledge developed in the curriculum for future performances of these young people into the world of work. By his time, the faculty must be trained professionally and emotionally to work with this age group, whose peculiarities may not be neglected, if there is in fact a compromise with the quality of education and with the proposed pedagogical policy of the course in question.

Socio-economic aspects that partially hinder the entry also emerged, because the aggregated spending, such as transport, didactic material, food and clothing, shows real obstacles to its permanence in course.

It stands out that more studies are needed on the topic analyzed here, as to the deepening of knowledge processing by students admitted to universities and the nursing course. New methodological proposals for teaching and implementation of projects and strategies that ensure the permanence of the student in the course and provide professional training will have to be revised and adjusted.



1. Souza NVDO, Correia LM, Rodrigues BMRD, Pereira AM, Pena DA, Nunes KSM. O enfermeiro e a teoria crítica da educação: sua inserção no mundo do trabalho. Rev enferm UERJ. 2006; 14(4): 506-11.

2. Henriques RLM, Clós AC. Desafios da graduação em enfermagem: a primeira geração de enfermeiros do novo currículo. Rev enferm UERJ. 2000; 8(2): 71-2.

3. Sanches MO, Pedro ENR. Ações e expressões de cuidado na prática educativa de enfermeiros docentes. Rev. Gaúcha Enferm. 2008; 29(1): 11-7.

4. Lima RCS. Trabalhador 2000: Inteligente, criativo, emocionado, participativo... In:Borges LH, Moulin MGB, Araújo MD, org. Organização do Trabalho e Saúde:múltiplas relações. Vitória: EDUFES; 2001. p. 55-65.

5. Pinheiro GML, Dias JAA. Representações de enfermeiros acerca do cuidado numa perspectiva holístico/ecológica. Rev Enferm Atual.2005; 30(5): 28-31.

6. Lopes GT, Caldas NP, Silva MTN, Vianna LCL. Perfil do egresso da Faculdade de Enfermagem da UERJ. Rev Enferm UERJ. 1996; (extra) :38-50.

7. Correia LM. Construção do projeto político pedagógico: experiência da faculdade de enfermagem da uerj. Rev Bras Enferm. 2004; 57(6): 649-53

8. Conselho Nacional de Saúde. Resolução n. 196, de 10 de outubro de 1996. Dispõe sobre diretrizes e normas regulamentadoras de pesquisas envolvendo seres humanos. Bioética. 1996; 4(2 Supl): 15-25.

9. Moreira MCN. Imagens no espelho de vênus: mulher, enfermagem e modernidade. Rev Latino-Am Enferm.1999; 7(1).

10. Ministério da Saúde (Br). Adolescentes promotores de saúde: uma metodologia para capacitação/ Secretaria de Políticas de saúde. Brasília (DF); 2000.

11. Assembléia Legislativa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Lei 5346 de 11 de dezembro de 2008 [citado em 11 marc 2009). Available at: http: www.vestibular.uerj.br.

12. Sparta M, Gomes WB. Importância atribuída ao Ingresso na Educação Superior por alunos do Ensino Médio. Rer Brasileira de Orientação Profissional. 2005; 06(2):45-53.

13. Galinari R, Crocco MA, Lemos MB, Basques MFD.  O efeito das economias de aglomeração sobre os salários industriais: uma aplicação ao caso brasileiro. Rer econ contemp. 2007; 11(3) :391-420.

14. Carvalho MS. Perfil de risco: método multivariado de classificação socioeconômica de microáreas urbanas – os setores censitários da região metropolitana do Rio de Janeiro – Cad Saúde Pública. 1997; 13(4): 635-645.

15. IBGE – Pesquisa Nacional de Saneamento Básico 2008. [citado em 13 de out 2013]. Available at: http://www.ibge.gov.br/home/estatistica/populacao/condicaodevida/pnsb2008/PNSB_2008.pdf.

16.  Montali L. Rearranjos familiares de inserção, precarização do trabalho e empobrecimento. R Brás Est Pop [online]. 2004; 21 (2). [citado em 13 de out 2013]. Available at: http://www.abep.nepo.unicamp.br/docs/rev_inf/vol21_n2_2004/vol21_n2_2004_4artigo_p195a216.pdf.

17. Spindola T. O aluno e a enfermagem: por que esta opção profissional? Esc Anna N ery Rev Enferm. 1999; 3(3): 25-36.

18. Medina NVJ, Takahashi RT. A busca da graduação em enfermagem como opção dos técnicos e auxiliares de enfermagem. Rev esc enferm. USP. 2003; 37 (4): 101-8.

19. Estabel LB, Moro LS, Santarosa MCA. Inclusão social e digital de pessoas com limitação visual e o uso das tecnologias de informação e de comunicação na produção de página para a internet. Ci Inf. 2006; 35(1):94-101.

Recebido em: 23.07.2012
Aprovado em: 06.10.2013

Direitos autorais 2014 Norma Valéria Dantas de Oliveira Souza, Lucia Helena Garcia Penna, Luana dos Santos Cunha, Amanda de Almeida Sant’anna Baptista, Iraneide Ferreira Mafra, Débora Cristina de Almeida Mariano

Licença Creative Commons
Esta obra está licenciada sob uma licença Creative Commons Atribuição - Não comercial - Sem derivações 4.0 Internacional.