Wednesday, December 21, 2011

People I liked working with

Our final grades posted this morning and we got the official email announcing that we all passed the Normal Body unit. Our professors did a really good job of getting everything graded and posted quickly. Being officially done will make it easier to relax over break! Maybe now my dreams will stop tracing the flow of blood through the head.

January will be a fun month, we're splitting into two groups of four and will be alternating days on surgical pathology and autopsy pathology in addition to our lectures. It will be our first time working with the Duke PAs. I'm excited! This is what I've been waiting for since we started! I like grossing so much and I will get to do it again, hooray!

A couple of the people in the program have stayed employed where they worked before they started school and pick up a few hours over breaks but I didn't. It makes going back to where I worked before a sort of hazy area HIPAA compliance-wise. Especially since the grossing folks work nights and the supervisors aren't around to get permission from. I don't want to get anyone in trouble. Next time I'm remotely in town I will have to try to take everyone for mexican food or something. I worked with great people I really like, which is a plus in any job but especially important in something like grossing.

Where I worked there were three of us and the work was shared, which means that you had to be able to count on the people you worked with. If someone was out for whatever reason (illness or vacation) it meant the other two picked up the slack since there was no one else available to help. The gross room had the fewest sick days of any department in the company, not because we were particularly healthy but because anyone calling in was aware of how it affected the other two. And it was good to know that if you were one of the two people there doing the work of three that the other person working that day had your back. That they were willing to stay as late as you were to make sure everything got done that night that needed to be done, even if it meant working hours after our scheduled time off, shifting our schedule for the entire week, literally running to the bathroom when we couldn't take it anymore, and eating dinner as bites snatched standing up in the warehouse while a courier unloaded the next group of specimens. They were great people to work with and I hope I am even half as lucky when it comes to who I'll be working with after I graduate.

Some of our second years have already started job hunting (and at least one that I know of already had a job lined up for after graduation!!) and it is interesting to see the dynamics in a field like this where the demand is greater than the supply. As a grossing tech I was well compensated and had a fair amount of autonomy and trust where I was working, but if I were to change jobs? I would probably have taken a big pay cut and been limited to doing smalls. As a certified pathologists' assistant, the prospects are significantly better so students can be selective about location and work environment. As first years we are definitely paying attention to how the job hunt goes for the students who will be graduating next summer, and so far it is nothing but good news. :)


  1. Congrats on passing your exams! This whole blog reminds me of my senior year in my undergraduate program, especially the job hunt. It was a really great feeling to have a job lined up right after graduation, and I'm hoping the same will happen for me in 2014 (just on a more intense scale).

    I also remember those days as an overnight grossing tech when people were sick or took off. I loved it because the night went by really quickly, and we were getting paid overtime. If I wasn't getting paid any overtime, then this would be a different story lol

  2. Well the overtime thing definitely helps, but turn around time matters so much in this industry and it would be hard to leave something important knowing there was a patient waiting for their results. :) It isn't something that I would want to do regularly but I have stayed over time off the clock to get things finished before.

  3. Oh yeah, I know what you mean about the turn-around time! I've had many run-ins over that. In fact, I've had turn-around time shoved down my throat so much that it became a major hassle at one job, and I was doing my work as diligently as possible.

    The thing is that one of the leading national pathology associations (I forget which one at the moment) came up with an official turn-around time schedule for all specimens, from GI biopsies (the high priority specimens) all the way to large complex surgical cases. I think it's like 90% of all GI biopsies have to be diagnosed within 48 hours or something like that. For the rest, it's like 2 to 5 days. I strongly adhere to that, and when I get slammed with a turn-around time for everything, that's when I start to get antsy.

  4. *with a 24 hour processing time for everything, I meant. I remember this one pathologist strongly urged me to gross a mastectomy specimen the same day it arrived, unfixed! I was beside myself...

  5. Well, where I was working we handled the outreach clients so if we weren't competitive with our TAT then we lost clients. Faster results was one of our main selling points (that and having a large enough staff of pathologists to be able to do in-house consultations for a lot of specialties). I wonder if that's the difference between a strict hospital setting and a business that handles a lot of other clinics?

    At least with breast tissue you have the CAP's fixation guidelines as a defense. If it doesn't get at least the minimum time in formalin, it isn't going to work for special stains. At the hospitals my company did pathology for the breast specimens had to be received before a certain cut off time so they could be properly fixed before being loaded onto the processor.