In this terrific teaching team, there really are no “firsts.” Even though Pharmacy Technician Program Coordinator Christine Guay arrived at Caroline Center in 2015, followed by her husband, Gordon Guay, in 2017, it was clear that they were quite literally singing from the same hymnal when it came to their love for Caroline Center.
As Christine recalls, in the spring of 2015, she and Gordy were sitting in church – “early for once and waiting for Mass to begin. To pass the time, I picked up the church bulletin and saw a small ad with the headline, ‘Recently retired? Looking for a way to give back?’ As it turned out, I was recently retired after 25 years with a major retail pharmacy. Some weeks later, following a conversation with Sr. Pat, who had her heart set on finding a volunteer pharmacist, I began teaching what’s called in the trade, the MedList – the top 200 drugs every pharmacy technician must know in her day-to-day work.” In the education profession, Christine was teaching Pharmacology 101. Having begun as a volunteer at Caroline Center through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Christine has been a full-time instructor for the pharmacy portion of Caroline Center’s training program since January 2017.
Gordy followed Christine’s lead, joining Caroline Center in April 2017. As he explains it – “My bride needed an Anatomy & Physiology instructor. Since I taught A&P as a graduate student, it was pretty easy to step in and help. Plus, I have to say, doing what I can to help change someone’s life is just a great reason to get off of the couch.”
The rewards that Christine and Gordy find in teaching at Caroline Center are many. Christine readily admits that her class is not easy and that trainees really benefit from working together, helping each other succeed. “Seeing the women change from the first week – distrustful of each other and not wanting to make any connections, to a truly bonded class where women are helping each other study and drying each other’s tears is amazing. It’s beautiful to watch their friendships develop.” Gordy adds, “There are so many great people from diverse backgrounds working and volunteering at Caroline Center – all trying to affect people’s lives for the better. The trainees are wonderful women; and, this education makes a significant difference in their lives and in their families’ lives. I am happy to be a small part of their success. And, because I love teaching Anatomy & Physiology, I really get a kick out of hearing the women say how ‘cool’ the subject matter is.” A particular thrill for Christine is when trainees really start to understand the pharmacology of drugs. “We throw a lot of acronyms at them – ACEs and ARBs – beta blockers and alpha blockers – but, by Halfway Hurrah, things are starting to make sense. By week nine, I can give the women the name of a drug that they have never heard of, and based upon the naming system used by the manufacturers, the FDA, the US Adopted Names Council, they know what the drug is. Teaching pharmacy law is also rewarding. Although, it’s a bit dry, pharmacy is so highly regulated, every pharmacy technician needs to learn and embrace these laws.”
Every Caroline Center teacher wants trainees to have a firm grasp of the material that will be so essential to their having successful careers. In addition, there are lessons each teacher wishes to impart so that trainees and graduates also will be successful in life. Gordy says that he structures his classes so that every trainee understands that she is responsible for her learning and for doing the right thing always, not just when someone is watching. Christine says she wants her trainees to know that their work is important – not only to the pharmacist she may be assisting, but to the patient she is serving. In their work, she tells them, “never underestimate the importance of kindness, confidentiality, reliability, and hard work. And, always, always double check your calculations.”
In closing, Christine reflects that sometimes the best things come along when you’re not really expecting them. “I wasn’t really looking for as full of a commitment as I took on in January of last year, but Caroline Center is such a wonderful place to work and to learn. The staff is so dedicated; and, Sr. Pat has a special talent for drawing us all in. Then, there are the trainees – they carve a special place in our hearts.” Not surprisingly – and, true to the “good chemistry” of this couple – Gordy adds, “Over the past few years, I’ve seen my wife put her heart and soul into this work. She created a strong pharmacy technician program from scratch; and, she loves this work. Her selflessness and her willingness to do anything that she possibly can for the trainees is remarkable. I’m really proud of her. Christine and I just thank the Lord each day for placing us at Caroline Center – a place where great education happens because the heart and mind must work together in teaching.”