Monday, October 8, 2012

What I did on my summer rotation

I thought it might be interesting for folks considering a pathologists' assistant program to see the types of specimens that I encountered and grossed during my first rotation (it was summer so it meant only one pass through Duke surgical pathology and the VA surgical pathology, and that we were brand new students so the complexity is not what it will be). This is not a comprehensive list, since I am not including specimen number counts and it doesn't include autopsy at all. Also, I'm not breaking it down by location to keep things vague since these are specimens that could be received on either rotation and I tend to overcompensate when it comes to not violating social media policies.

Summer rotation specimen list:

Radical mastectomies
Reduction mammoplasty
Sentinel lymph nodes/node dissections
Nephrectomy (partial and radical)
Prostatecomy (radical)
TURP (prostate chips)
Vas Deferens
Thyroidectomy for neoplasm
Liver wedges
Hepatectomy (total and partial)
Amputation specimens
Assorted orthopedic specimens
Colon resection (with and without anus, with and without appendix)
Gallbladder (routine and for suspicion of neoplasm)
Small bowel resections
Stoma takedown
Hysterectomy (for fibroids and neoplasm, simple and radical)
Ovaries (benign and neoplasm)
Placentas (singletons and multiples)
Pneumonectomies (native lungs for transplant patients and neoplasms)
Pneumonectomies (wedges/partial)
Assorted smaller specimens of varying types/complexity

It feels like a pretty solid start to my clinical year! The fall semester has already had some interesting specimens pop up, but I'll save those for later.


  1. That's a pretty decent list! I know it's been a while since I last commented on (and viewed) your fine blog, but things have been quite crazy lately. I officially withdrew from Drexel's PA program to take a PA job. Best decision I ever made, and I couldn't be happier! So far in my first week of work, I've seen and grossed about 35% of what's on your list. Insane!

    When you finally get an official PA position, have no fear. Usually, the first 3 months is a "training"/probation period. For fresh graduates, most places assume that you know little to nothing, and someone is usually present to train you on proper hospital protocol, procedures, and the way they do things (which is extremely helpful). Coming from a PA program, you'll be ahead of the game, of course. But it's just amazing how some places are willing to take people with little to no experience, pay them extremely well, and be willing to train them. I guess that's what happens when the field is in such high demand.

    1. The fall list is looking better, I've added whipples, spleens, and esophagogastrectomy for a start.

      So are you still in PA or did you head back to NY? Glad you're happy in your new position!

      It will be interesting to see what happens after I'm working again. It would be very helpful to have someone familiar with the hospital's procedures/pahtologists' preferences handy.

    2. No, I'm not in PA anymore. I moved out of there last month to move to Manhattan. I'm very pleased with my position so far. Thankfully, no ASCP certification is required and most likely never will be for this hospital system. I'm very glad for that, mostly because I feel that the ASCP did a great disservice to the profession by mandating only one route to obtain certification. It just doesn't make any logical sense to limit certification like this when the field is in such high demand. I also don't believe that every single employer of PathA's in this country will require certification in the foreseeable future.

      What's really interesting is that a new PA school will be opening up in the tri-state area, and I might be part in designing its curriculum! When my boss told me that it might be opening within 5 to 10 years, I made sure to offer the suggestion to help design it and teach at it, and she said it's a distinct possibility. For what Drexel put me through, I'll make sure that it out-competes them :). And because my hospital is affiliated with this medical school that would be creating the PA program, I just might be able to get my certification in an easier, more stress-free fashion.

      All in all, things are looking great. Now that I've finished my soul-searching, career-exploring phase, I can solely focus on my job and saving up for retirement.

      Keep me posted on your specimen activities and where you'll end up working after graduation! :)

    3. Oh, and here's some more information I might as well divulge in full public view. I'll just state on the record that I thoroughly despise Drexel University, its administration (from the financial aid office, to which I owe them $3,600 because they returned my student loan money after they already disbursed it at the beginning of the semester, all the way to the program directors) and its PA program. I would never suggest anybody going there for a Pathologist's Assistant education.

      What's really funny is that my name supposedly went around the Philadelphia area, and not in a very good way. People were bad-mouthing me left and right. And this all stemmed from my online postings and the blog I used to have up earlier in the year. In my possession, I actually have e-mails written back and forth between my directors where my character was being attacked for no reason whatsoever. These are people who I haven't known personally at all, and they don't even know my technical grossing skills. It really was (and is) disgusting. Also, when I went into a meeting with the program director and dean, I recorded the whole meeting secretly. My director was saying how even BEFORE I started the program, the administration didn't want me there, but she "stuck up" for me and was my "advocate" (which was clearly a lie, given the unpraiseworthy emails she wrote about me that I have on file).

      So that basically was the drama I had to endure there in a nutshell. Being a very Ivy League city, Philadelphia is an extremely clique-ish place, and that fact confirms what people were telling me about how the PA profession is a "very small group." It is and it isn't, but the "is" group is the one you really have to watch out for. I didn't fit into that clique of people; hence, I left to continue my work in the field. I'm just very grateful that I have an employer who realizes the potential of my true character as well as my technical skills.