I believe one of the great advantages of teaching at the higher education level is our ability to (sometimes) (sort of) take summers “off”. However, for many nurse educators, the pay of our loved educational jobs is so low, that we may end up teaching summer school, or working an RN position over the summers, weekends, or evenings. For myself, this summer I have committed to taking July and August “off” so that I can spend time with my family, but the reality is that educational issues will still need to be addressed. I taught two classes during the first session of summer. I love teaching these more intensive courses, where students seem to become deeply and rapidly emerged in the topics.
In my tenure track position, I am expected to do some research, and my research focuses primarily on the outcomes of our integral-holistic RN- BSN curriculum. But of course, I don’t have time during the school year to research and write, so it has to be done over the summer. I have committed to writing two articles for specific journals, so that will take up plenty of my time. Additionally, there is a lot of “prep” that needs to be done for the upcoming Fall courses. As our curriculum is new, changes are being made based on previous feedback, which means a certain amount of time must be dedicated toward revising the 3 hybrid online courses to have them ready to go for Fall.
Students email me over the summer for advising about Fall and future classes. New students need special care, attention, and plans for success. The hospital we are partnering with is developing a new program where we will partner with them to support a cohort of RN- BSN students in moving through our curriculum in a timely manner, even as they learn to actually apply holistic concepts in practice, thereby bridging the theory-practice gap.
Additionally, I have a commitment to self-care even as I ask my students to explore their self-care needs, I need to be role modeling my growth in this area as well. I am taking a yoga teacher training class in the hopes of integrating yoga into our curriculum and eventually offer an integrative yoga class for credit. I consider this also be an effort to keep my own skills as an educator up-to-date, as yoga is being used as a complimentary modality, and something that nurses can support their patients in using for healing.
Then there are accreditation and forthcoming budget issues that need to be explored and managed before the summer is out.
So, I am thinking that for many educators, it is a fallacy that one of the “benefits” of our work is the ability to take summers off. I feel fortunate that I love my work and cannot imagine anything else I would rather be doing for work. I do think that we need to make it clear to administrators and even other faculty what it takes to run a nursing program. This summer at my school we made a joke about the “secret summer undertakings of the nursing faculty”, but is this one of those areas where we might be only hurting ourselves by not making our work evident?