Saturday, August 1, 2020

Oh wow, so... hey

I forgot about you. I'm sorry. Life has been busy. Kids are teenagers, my dad (who moved with me to grad school and helped me with the kids during those years) passed away in 2018, and I'm still with the same hospital system. Had a couple pathologists retire and brought on some new ones.

We went live with Beaker, which is the EPIC lab module. It was a nightmare, but after two years we are more or less used to it. Beaker is an interesting LIS, in that while it is an EPIC product, it was put together in large part by the individual hospital's IT department. So if your build team is bad, you get a sub-par product. The EPIC employees we worked with weren't great. On the 60 day follow up visit, one of the EPIC guys actually fell asleep while on the panel addressing all of the problems that the laboratory had as a whole. Although, in their defense, most of the lab's stuff was functional. Pathology and microbiology were the glaring exceptions. For our go-live we were assigned an EPIC employee for the week, except he wasn't actually someone that used Beaker, didn't understand the lab, and he didn't pack his phone charge (it was a USB-C right when they came out so no one had one to lend him) so he couldn't even text or call his coworkers that might actually be able to help. His name was Lionel and after the second day, we never saw him again. It was an epic mess, forgive the pun. The most interesting part is since we switched, new pathologists and staff who have come in have asked us why our Beaker doesn't do X or Y. Our in-house Beaker staff and even our EPIC aftercare point person tell us that Beaker doesn't do those things. Until our new-hires point out that it did at their last hospital. It is very strange that EPIC didn't bother to copy the positives from Cerner Millennium or literally any other system that works well.

We are in the process of getting VoiceBrook now. It is a good company, and if I have to go back to voice recognition it is the best option. It sounds like in the four years since I last used them, they have implemented a lot of neural network-y smart technology stuff so I am excited to work with that.

Let's see... what else? In 2018, our autopsy business exploded, so by the end of the year I was actually much more comfortable with them than ever before. It turns out just doing a whole bunch of them was all it took. I stepped down from management in 2018 as well. I was working most weekends on top of 8-5:30 most days, to try to get the administrative stuff in on top of the grossing. With my dad being ill and my kids growing up so fast, I decided that I was going to prioritize my family. It was absolutely the right choice as it was evolving from a gross room supervisor position into an AP manager position with no bench time. I declined to apply for the manager position and instead asked to move to a staff PA position (one opened up six months later). I am not a fan of administrative work and meetings. They are endless and at the end of they day, when you're mentally drained and worn out from hearing people talk, you can't actually point to anything concrete that you've done. I like the simplicity of grossing and the neat little rows of blocks at the end of the day. Also, I clock out when it is time to go home and I leave work at work. Plus, I lobbied to be paid hourly, because if I'm going to be there over 40 hours I'm going to get overtime. One of the tricky things was being salaried the trade off is supposed to be that for the hours or days you work over, you should be able to duck out early on the slow days. Except... there were never those slow days. If there had been slow days, I wouldn't have been working Saturdays. Overtime is the absolute best.

I still love the work though. I like the busyness of the gross room and the rhythm of grossing. I like training the AP assistants on new things and watching people develop professionally. Our AP manager is settled into our organization and is doing great with all the administrative things that drive me mad. So many fights I didn't want to fight, like overhauling the entire billing process.

There is a pathologists' assistants subreddit, if you're someone looking at going to PA school. We're still not great at PR, but there is a little more out there if you're looking. New programs are popping up as well. I can't speak to their quality or admissions process.


  1. Hello! I recently stumbled across your post from 2011 talking about your application process to PA programs. I’m taking my GRE in a week and have been getting applications ready. Thought you would like to hear a post of yours from 9 years ago helped me today :)