“I always liked the patient-teaching part of being a nurse, so it made sense for me to translate that into a more formalized role as an educator in an academic facility,” says Tammy Spencer, MS ‘89, RN, CNE, ACNS-BC, CCNS, senior instructor and academic advisor at the College of Nursing.
From working with patients and families as a nurse in the critical care setting, Spencer went on to pursue a career in nursing education. She earned both her master’s degree in adult medical-surgical nursing in 1989 and her advanced practice post-master’s certificate as an adult clinical nurse specialist and critical care clinical nurse specialist in 2010 from the University of Colorado College of Nursing.
“The students are what keep me excited about nursing,” she says. “They bring a refreshing newness to my nursing practice and teaching."
Spencer works with undergraduates both in and out of the classroom. In addition to teaching, she is an academic advisor for the baccalaureate nursing program and serves as faculty liaison for the University of Colorado Student Nurses Association (CUSNA).
“Every cohort of students brings something different,” she says. “Everyone has their own life stories and life experiences that shape them and how they became interested in nursing. I find these stories to be inspirational to me as a nurse and as an educator."
For Spencer, being an educator isn’t about simply feeding students information or helping them understand and apply it, but watching them grow and mature as nurses.
“I get to see them literally on their first day of class and again close to graduation,” says Spencer, who teaches both Health Assessment and Medical Surgical Nursing Part 2. “It is just so great to see the transition as they become confident and capable individuals beginning their professional nursing career. Knowing I had a role in their transformation is incredibly rewarding.”