Lynn-Dee Spencer gave up a full career as a paralegal to teach others to be pharmacy technicians.
It was a choice triggered by the experience of taking care of her ill grandparents, especially noticing the quantity and the confusing instructions of all the medicines they had to take.
“There were all these pill bottles. I had to ask myself, what effect does all of this have on the body?” Lynn-Dee recalls.
Today Lynn-Dee answers those questions at Renton Technical College, where she has worked as a Pharmacy Technician program instructor since 2013.
Lynn-Dee is originally from Hawaii. She came to Seattle to help create former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice’s program for home buying opportunities for low-income residents. Her 15-year career as a paralegal also included some time at Paul Allen’s companies, Washington Mutual, several hospitals and entertainment companies.
After her family illness experience, she enrolled in a pharmacy technician program and earned her certification. It was not an easy ride.
“Math was not my forte, but I made it work,” she said.
Prior to devoting herself to teaching, Lynn-Dee worked as a senior pharmacy technician for Walgreens, where she trained new technicians. She worked with two other schools through their accreditation and curriculum process before coming to RTC as a substitute. She became a full-time faculty member in 2013.
Since arriving at RTC, she has focused the program on the practical skills that employers want. One result has been the certification exam passing rate for her program – this last spring, 100 percent of her students passed the exam. Her classes have placed above the national average since 2008.
Lynn-Dee also brings to RTC a unique credential. She is one of only 135 instructors in the United States authorized to train students in how to compound and prepare intravenous medications under USP 797 (United States Pharmacopeia convention, a national standards group).
“My motto to students is ‘You all start off with an A; how you keep it is up to you and only you’,” Lynn-Dee said. “I make everything we do in class like the real world. I believe interactions and lab simulations help students to retain skills.”
She said RTC has been a great experience. She’s encouraged by the program’s focus on students and on serving all the community.
“At Renton Technical College, they invest in the student,” Lynn-Dee said. “The students look to me as the industry expert to get them into this career. In return, I invest in their training and in building their confidence so they can be the best.”