This is my first post here, but, I felt it was the best place to bring up a very serious issue that I have yet to see addressed concerning the nature of nursing education in the community colleges.
I started working at a local California Community College and was initially hired for a "60%" position. As a nurse of 34 years who loves teaching I was very happy with this arrangement, particularly because I have multiple sclerosis (mild case) and have to manage my time and energies. When I actually began teaching however, I was shocked to learn that "60%" in "college speak" was equivalent to 12 hours a week!!
Of course I took whatever hours I could but this put me in a difficult place having to scramble to find other sources of income. I never thought during my interview to explore what "60%" meant, but that was my mistake and I know better now. As time has gone on and I've experience more of the "inner workings" of the system I have been disappointed to learn that these kind of limited hours is pretty much standard operating procedure for the community colleges in our state. As a result, I'm coming to wonder if so much of the fuss about the nursing instructor shortage is a less than accurate description of the real situation.
For instance, in our school alone we have nearly 40 adjunct faculty who aren't allowed to work more than the alloted 12 hours per week. On the other hand, the district only allows 8 fulltime positions which have long ago been filled. So here we are with 3 dozen qualified instructors in one school who WANT to work and can't and a few who are overworked and highly stressed who can't spread the load out among the many qualified (and willing) faculty available.
I know many of us who love teaching and would do anything to work more hours but our hands are tied. With all the talk about the nursing shortage it seems to me that somebody would identify and address this as a contributing issue. All I ever hear from the media though are reports about the critical shortage of nursing instructors and not one word about any the REASON there might be a shortage.
As long as the community college systems continue to place nursing in the same category as biology or sociology and apply the same faculty staffing policies across the board I really see little hope for change. Utilizing multiple adjunct faculty may be cost effective for the other departments, but nursing is a such a unique discipline we can't allow this system to be the primary way our nurses are trained. The college "registry" system of staffing faculty isn't working in the nursing department, but until the powers that be recognize this, we are stuck with an antiquated system left over from the budget cuts of previous years.. We have received a great deal of funding for our department, but to date none has been designated for additional instructors other than a few short term grant-based assignments.
The saddest thing to me is to see high instructor turnover rate, but who can stay for any length of time when you have to manage 2 or 3 jobs to stay afloat financially? In addition, it is extremely difficult to give 100% when one isn't sure there will be work from term to term (the nature of adjunct teaching contracts).
So far, I haven't seen anyone discuss let alone begin to address this issue and I'm be interested to hear others thots and experiences of other instructors in California Colleges as well as instructors in colleges in other states.
Loving teaching, but beyond frustrated with the system