Burned Out Instructor

Specialties Educators


Specializes in Nursing Education, Psych, Med-surg.


The new term just started this week. You would think I could not possibly be burned out so soon, but I am. Last term was extremely challenging due to a new learning platform being rolled out to the newest cohort. Since I teach Fundamentals, that meant I was the only instructor having to learn (and teach) this new product. It came with many glitches that affected student exams and other assignments. It was very overwhelming.

Add to this the fact that the college can't keep a stable faculty. We are forever starting new instructors (and new DONs) and then losing them because they don't receive a proper orientation. This task often falls to the "seasoned" staff who have all their work to do. I have less than 3 years at this school, and I am a "seasoned" staff. I never refuse to help anyone but then I get behind in my prep work, grading, etc.

I had to assume responsibility for grading half a term's worth of skills lab assignments because the lead skills lab instructor left due to a family emergency. So this is how I and one other (new) instructor spent our break between the terms. I should have said "no", and perhaps that is the crux of the problem. When you have no other staff to do these things, it is hard not to try to help out.

So here I am, responsible for teaching 3 sections of Fundamentals (5 hr classes), followed by 2 sections of Skills Labs (4 hrs each), all in 2 days.  I get no real breaks in between. Students and instructors are asking me questions. Many lack access to the learning platform or classroom management platform, so I have to seek out resolutions for these issues. Registration continues to send over new students who also need help getting access to their courses and resources. 

So, yesterday was only the 2nd day of the semester...my long day. I'm there from 8 am to 11 pm. I left at 9 pm the night before. I have already learned that one of the Skills Lab instructors is going to be out sick, the "seasoned" one. Another instructor came into my office and complained about having to now teach 3 clinical sections and teach 2 sections of Med/Surg lecture. Just so you know, it's not just me.

After she walked out, I started having a panic attack. One of many I have been having these last 4 weeks. They include chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. I am currently on a Holter heart monitor for 7 days. The job is making me sick now. 

All of this backstory leads up to what happened next. And I still am not sure what my next step will be...I clocked out, cleaned my desk, and left as soon as possible, hoping I would not run into the Dean on my way out!

I texted the Dean and told her I was having chest pains, etc., and was going to the ER. However, I didn't go to the ER because I knew they would not find anything like the last 2 times I've gone under similar circumstances. This only happens at work.  My cardiologist says the issue is my job and I need to consider changing it.

So I left. I haven't given notice. I haven't spoken to the Dean. I don't even want to go back to that school! I start having palpitations just thinking about it. Of course, they'll have to scramble to replace me.  Someone (the Dean, maybe?) must teach my classes. Shouldn't I care about everyone else having to carry the heavier load?

No, I think I am done. I think I need to start thinking about me and my family. My husband had a TIA 2 months ago. My elderly mother who lives alone is starting to forget things. I am going to start receiving Social Security benefits next month. Can I just quit and call it a messy end to an otherwise good career?

I just happened across your post; I do not have any experience being an educator. I just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear of this; I does indeed sound very stressful and completely unsustainable. Your physical and mental health and well-being are important and you are the only one in this scenario with the incentive to protect them. So I support you.

I would just say, for your consideration, that if you are willing to completely quit without notice, you should/could also be bold enough to set some major new boundaries and let the chips fall where they may...if you are wishing for an alternative option, that is, and think you have the stamina left to pull it off. If you don't think you can do it or just simply don't want to at this point, you'd still have my support, for whatever that's worth! It sounds like a bad situation where those who are helpful are just being abused at this point.

If you decide to make your exit I think you would be exactly right to take pride and remember your career for its more rewarding aspects.

Take care~

Specializes in Nursing Education, Psych, Med-surg.

Thank you so much for your kind words! I had let my boss know that I was sick; taking the rest of the week off. Guess what? They managed it without me! Today I went in to discuss my future with the College. I told them that I could no longer be responsible for 3 lectures and and 2 skills labs as well as anything else they needed me for. I will teach my 3 lectures on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and that is it. They accepted my terms and I feel good about it. Thank you!

That's wonderful, good for you! I hope it works out very well.

best wishes ~

Specializes in oncology.

A new learning management system takes a lot of time for students  acclimation,  learning and professors like yourselves who actively have to introduce it. I sent a paper bill for my time!

Believe me the upper division WILL apply and get paid for it. Frankly the upper level faculty get PAID for everything like  proctoring ATI, Retakes of ATI . 

In any instance, I would retire (I did) to care for family, enjoy hobbies, enjoy being with my husband before running out the door, 

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