J. Gotlib1, D. Białoszewski1, U. Cavlak2, S. Janev3, I. Kunicka4, B. Paz Lourido5

1Medical University of Warsaw (POLAND)
2Pamukkale University (TURKEY)
3University of Ruse "Angel Kantchev" (BULGARIA)
4Daugavpils University (LATVIA)
5Universitat de les Illes Balears (SPAIN)
The division of into first-, second- and third-cycle studies according to the Bologna Process enables first-cycle programme graduates to start work in their chosen profession while, not infrequently, enrol in second- and then third-cycle programmes. There are a number of factors that can influence the vocational plans of first-cycle graduates, the most important ones including in different European countries.

The aim of the study was to analyse the vocational plans of first-cycle Physiotherapy students in their final year in selected European countries.

Invitations to participate in the study were sent to all university-level schools affiliated with ENPHE (The European Network of Physiotherapy in Higher Education).

Altogether, the study involved 299 third- or fourth-year students of first-cycle studies from five countries: 20 students from Bulgaria (BG), 100 students from Spain (ES), 21 from Latvia (LV), 58 from Turkey (TUR), and 100 from Poland (PL). The mean age of the 225 female and 74 male students was 23.05 years (SD: 2.71; range: 21-39).

An anonymous and voluntary questionnaire (designed by the authors and translated into national languages, 64 closed questions) was administered during a class near the end of the last semester of first-cycle studies in the academic year 2010/2011.

The response rate was 86%. The statistical analysis was carried out with Statistica 9.0 (licensed to Warsaw Medical University) and based on the non-parametric Kruskall-Wallis test, at p<0.05. The study did not require the approval of Warsaw Medical University’s Ethical Review Board.

Most PL students (58%) were willing to enrol in a second-cycle programme in Physiotherapy following completion of their first-cycle studies, while ES students (58%) wanted to enrol in a second-cycle programme while also taking up work in their profession, and the largest proportion of TUR students (48%) wanted to begin work and continue their education by attending training courses (p<0.01). TUR students declared familiarity with employment opportunities for first-cycle Physiotherapy graduates significantly more frequently (86%) than PL (31%) and ES students (63%) (p<0.01). TUR students also declared significantly more frequently (96%) than their PL (10%) and ES counterparts (22%) that it was easy to find work as physiotherapist in their country (p<0.01). The largest proportion of PL, ES and TUR students declared that it was easy to find work as physiotherapist in EU countries. The opinions of students from different European countries regarding factors that make it easier to find work as physiotherapists differed significantly (p<0.01). PL students pointed to graduating from a prestigious university and possessing the necessary knowledge and skills as the most important factors, while BG students found having “friends in the right places” also important.

1.Difficulty finding a job did not affect students’ decisions to study physiotherapy. Students believe finding employment is easier in other EU countries than their own. Thus they will probably look for jobs in other EU countries.
2. Curricula at BA level, should include information on career possibilities, both domestic and in other EU countries (free movement of workers).

3. Universities should prepare students to enter the job market and offer information on finding employment in their future professions and any associated problems.