Professor and beekeeper: Spicher keeps interests diverse

May 7, 2012

Aaron Collett
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According to the bee enthusiast site, over 200,000 people are involved in beekeeping across the United States. Every state is involved in this industry, and Colorado is the headquarters of the National Honey Board.

UCCS has its own representative of beekeeping. Jeff Spicher, a professor of nursing, owns four hives which produce about 50-70 pounds of honey every year. According to him, it’s not even that expensive to get started.

“A couple pounds of bees will cost you about $60-$70, and a hive, you’re at probably looking about another 100 bucks,” he said. “For about 200 bucks you can get started in beekeeping.”

As his work at UCCS has increased, Spicher has been less involved with his bees, and has given over much of the day-to-day beekeeping to his wife. He said, “I’m more of a consultant, now.”

Spicher has had a long journey to get to UCCS. He started as a pre-med student at the University of Virginia (UVA). After talking with his brother, a third-year medical student, Spicher decided that a Doctor of Medicine was not for him. “I wanted a life, for one thing,” he explained.

But he wasn’t into nursing just yet. “I was a biology major in college, and I went into biology ed – that’s basically what I graduated with.” He went on to the graduate program at UVA to study Environmental Science – only to drop out of the program after just one semester. “The first semester, Aqueous Chemistry, I was miserable.”

“I did have somewhat of an epiphany, one night,” he remembers. “I decided that I was going into nursing at that point, and I was able to get to sleep.”
Spicher ended up getting a clinical doctorate of nursing. He is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), which means that he can see patients and prescribe medications.

He was careful to distinguish himself from a medical doctor. “I went to nursing school, I become a Family Nurse Practitioner and I got a clinical doctorate,” he said. “I’m a doctor-nurse.”

After he became licensed as an FNP in 1998, Spicher was working in a family practice in Pennsylvannia. He found himself working over 50 hours a week.

He said, “I got to the point that I said to myself, ‘There has to be more to life than just working all the time.'” Since he had an education degree, he started searching for opportunities to, as he put it, “marry clinical practicing and teaching.” In November of 2002, Spicher applied for a job with Beth-El Nursing College, and was hired soon after that.

Spicher has never regretted the path he chose. He said, “It was the right decision – it’s been a passion for me.”