Career Awareness

March 11, 2015

Gross Anatomy

By Courtney Hyland

PA Career Blog PicCropWritten by Courtney Hyland, PA(ASCP)
Pathologists' Assistant in Anatomic Pathology, Mayo Clinic

As a Pathologists’ Assistant, I provide care behind the scenes.  I do the grossing of surgical specimens and the autopsies.  It’s not just chopping up tissue; it’s an exam, an exploration, the reveal of a patient’s pathological disease process.  The discovery of what was or still is going on in that patient’s body, what that disease was doing to her tissues and organs.Before I began my journey down the road of becoming a pathologists’ assistant, I worked in a cytogenetics laboratory.  It was fascinating, top of the line technologies, and edge of the field knowledge.  And the microscopic discoveries were amazing, enlightening.  But I wanted to see what it looked like in the body.  So I visited the pathology grossing laboratory.  Awesome!  My interest was piqued, I wanted to see and learn so much more.  I did not know this could be my career, that there was a field where I could get a tissue, an organ, a complicated specimen right in front of me, and discover what was going on using my own hands.  When a surgeon resects a tumor, it is the first time anyone sees what the disease looks like grossly, not just on a small fine needle aspiration, not just with imaging technologies on a computer screen, but actually physically with your own eyes and right in front of you to touch, feel, open and see.  It’s amazing to be the one to say to the surgeon, the cancer is out – you can tell our patient, the cancer is out of your body.   

Tags: Anatomic Pathology, Labs, Pathologists' Assistant, Pathology, Pathology Careers, Pathology Jobs, Uncategorized