University of Utah College of Nursing alumni believe their alma mater prepared them well for their careers, according to a study done by the National League for Nursing, the accreditation body for nursing schools.

But not all of the graduates are happy once they bid college good-bye.One hundred percent of the U. graduates surveyed believe their education was adequate, compared with 91 percent nationally. Only 67 percent of the national sample was satisfied with its clinical instruction, while 93 percent of U. nurses expressed approval.

Some 90 percent of the U. nursing graduates in the survey remained residents of Utah after graduating, according to the report. Of the Utah nurses surveyed, 89 percent found jobs before graduation, compared with 79 percent of the national sample. All the Utah nurses worked in hospital settings, 86 percent of them full time.

But only 61 percent of the Utah graduates expressed satisfaction with their jobs - compared with 64 percent nationally. Inadequate salary was their primary complaint.

Although the survey reported that nursing pay generally is higher in the West, the median Utah salary was $22,000 compared with $23,500 nationally.

But low pay isn't keeping men out of the profession. The survey showed that the U. has a relatively high percentage of male nurses - 24 percent - compared with 5 percent nationally.

The survey, conducted during the last half of 1988, includes responses of more than 38,000 nurses across the country who passed the National Council Licensing Exam in July of 1987 and had been working as nurses for one year. Nurses in all states must pass this test to qualify as registered nurses.

"We're pleased and excited by this report; it verifies not only that the University of Utah is providing a quality education, but that we're preparing nurses who remain to work in the state," said Linda K. Amos, dean of the College of Nursing. "The study also validates the tremendous commitment of our faculty, who work hard to design a sound curriculum that prepares graduates for future practice."

The U. graduates 90 nursing students each year. Amos said budget limitations have prohibited larger classes, and for the past several years, many qualified applicants have been turned away.

She said more nurses can be educated only by hiring additional faculty - one full-time faculty member for every eight to 10 students.

A widespread nursing shortage prompted formation of a Utah Nursing Study Task Force in 1986. Its 1987 report projected a 20 percent shortage of nurses in the state by 1990, and recommended increased state appropriations to nursing schools.

The 1989 Legislature addressed the problem by appropriating additional funds to be added to the base budget for nursing education in the state. The U. College of Nursing's share of the appropriation - in excess of $200,000 - "is a much appreciated acknowledgment of the state's nursing needs and our role in meeting them, and will help bolster our undergraduate and graduate education programs," Amos said.