Thursday, February 14, 2013

A New Blog

I apologize for not posting any updates lately. I still haven't gotten around to getting permission to post about work, but I will say that we are very busy. There are still many more things to learn and ways to improve my performance, but, things are going as smoothly as they can.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but a current student at WVU has created her own blog to document her experiences in PA school. I'd encourage everyone to go and take a look here:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Day of Work as a PA!

I'm back from Japan and have already begun my first day of work at my new place of employment. It was a busy day with a lot of information to absorb. There are still many new things that I'll have to get used to here. It's very exciting to begin work, yet it feels like I'm working among giants. My colleagues are all so proficient and professional. I can't wait for the day when other people will be looking at myself in the same way.

Before I continue any further with this post, I'll need to get permission from my supervisor regarding postings about this new laboratory. There is a set of company guidelines to follow for bloggers at this place and I'll be sure to adhere to them. However, some things must come first. After I get the A-OK, I'll be eager to write more posts.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reunited in Japan

It's been a long year and a half, but it's good to finally be reunited with my fiancee, Hanako. Deciding to go to graduate school and work hard and study hard for two years is well enough on its own. However, it's also because of the goals and experiences that we want to attain outside of school and work that we do our best. Being able to achieve our professional goals in many cases helps us to achieve so many other goals in life. For me, being together with Hanako again is one such example.

January 1st will bring a close to the year 2012. In reflection, there are so many things that my classmates and I were able to accomplish this year, but there are still many goals and achievements yet to be made in 2013.

May the New Year find you all a little closer to achieving your goals!

Friday, December 21, 2012


It has been a very busy past couple of days with last minute studying, unpacking, cleaning and organizing. But, perhaps the most important news is that I can now be considered a ASCP certified pathologists' assistant. It is great to have the burden of the exam lifted from off of my shoulders. I will still be very busy with cleaning and organizing all the way up until my trip to Japan. I still have to deal with the headache of USCIS and their frustrating immigration process, but it's good to be able to tackle different tasks one at a time.

I still have much work and meeting of family and old friends left to go, so this post will remain short. Thank you everyone for all of your steadfast support. The pages of these two years have turned and now what remains is the real meat of the story that is left to be written.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Last Day of Rotation and Specimen Log for 2012

One could say that today, Friday, December 14th, 2012 is the day on which the Pathologists’ Assistant Program for 2012 has officially completed. My classmate and I said our farewells to the hardworking and instructive PAs and staff at UPMC Shadyside Hospital and we headed to our home for perhaps the last time. Eight weeks ago I had very little experience with prostates, bladders, knees and hips, but now I feel much more comfortable handling those specimens.

From here on out, it will be packing and organizing my luggage before my flight on Tuesday. We have already discontinued our internet service, so I will need to walk to the local library to connect to the internet. Replying to any comments may be a little slow for a short while until I arrive back in California.

Of note for your viewing pleasure is a log of all of the specimens that I have done during this year. You could say that it is one years’ worth of grossing for this PA student. Any future students can look at this and get a general feel for what they can expect to gross during their own rotations. You will notice that I unfortunately did not get the chance to perform a whipple or a laryngectomy. During my rotation at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, on the second to last week there were plenty that were coming in nearly every day. I watched other PAs gross these specimens in preparation for performing those ones the following week. Then, as luck would have it, hardly a trickle came in. Take it as a warning to be very proactive in obtaining certain specimens because the blowing of the wind can change direction at a moment’s notice. I am still confident that I can perform these two specimen types with the help of my future colleagues and my previous knowledge of the specimens from both observation and having studied the texts.

Overall, I am very pleased with both the range and volume of specimens that I was able to work with. The true range of specimens that I was able to gross is actually broader, but adding too many categories would make it difficult to fit it all onto just one page. Therefore, I combined all of the odd-one-outs into the “soft tissue, nos” category.

In addition to packing I will be studying hard for the last and final test. Time to put on the study cap.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Graduation day has come! Being able to see all of my classmates and the professors who made this program possible again was very satisfying.  Despite the rain nothing could dampen our spirits.

Our day was actually broken up into two parts. In the morning, we arrived at the alumni center for our convocation brunch. There we had the chance to meet the family members of many of our classmates and our professors. There was a variety of breakfast foods and the preparations and arrangements were beautiful. When I first arrived in Morgantown two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the convocation brunch for the class of 2010 and I was glad to see that things hadn’t changed. After eating brunch our program director, Cheryl Germain, started with a few words about our accomplishments. There were many of us who were recognized for our awards and other achievements. In fact, our class has had an exceptionally large number of students who have been recognized at the national level, much more than would be expected for our class size. It is a testament that the efforts and hard work that Cheryl and all of the other coordinators and professors have labored for us has been fruitful. Pictures were taken, gifts were exchanged, and then it was off to the coliseum.

The coliseum was where not just our class, but all of the students from the various schools and departments at WVU were recognized. We put on our cap and gowns and walked in. There were a few speeches by a number of directors and each of us walked up to accept our certificates of recognition. Our actual diplomas will be mailed to us a number of weeks from now, but I thought that the ceremony simulated an actual graduation almost exactly. It was good to see all of us new professionals in our attire ready to enter into the workforce.

Which reminds me, virtually all of us have found jobs before graduating! In general, it is good to apply early to a few places that you are interested in, but as graduation is in December, if you apply in May or June you may get a reply saying that the lab can’t wait that long to employ you. I would say that by September, about half of us had found employment. By December, nearly all of us had. It’s great news not just for our class, but it’s also great news for our program at West Virginia University. It’s really exciting seeing our friends and classmates find work in a city that they love and how well things worked out in the end. It reminds me of one of those game shows on TV where they drop a ping pong ball down through a board filled with pegs. The ball bounces down all around on the pegs but eventually ends up in a final hole at the bottom. You can’t ever tell what path the ball will take as it falls down, but they all end up at their final destination. I’m really happy for all of my classmates and am glad to have had them by my side throughout this program.

All is not over however! We have one last week to complete at our hospital rotations before we can reunite with our families. Our last day is on Friday, December 14th. My ticket to return to Fresno, California is on the Tuesday, December 18th, and then I’ll take my ASCP Certification Exam in Fresno on Thursday, December 20th. A few days of relaxation and then I’m off to reunite with my fiancĂ©e in Japan on Friday, December 28th. I’ll be returning to California on Tuesday, January 15th and after a few days of rest I’ll be able to start my employment at Pathology Associates in Clovis. I can’t wait!

Although I’ll soon be graduating from this wonderful program here at WVU, I plan to keep up this blog for posterity and for all of the future potential students who are interested into entering Pathologists’ Assistant School. I believe that time will permit and if so I will continue with updates while working. My future blog plans are tentative, but I would eventually like to create a lot of guides on how to gross specific specimens. I’ll need to get permission from Pathology Associates and of course keep strict adherence to the rules for HIPAA.

So, despite graduation, this is not the end if there’s anything I can do to help it! I’m very fortunate to have a program director who has been able to get the information and advice found in this blog out to such a wide audience of students and young health professionals.

Rather than post pictures of our graduation directly onto this blog, I will post a link to our program’s website where the pictures can be viewed directly as soon as they are uploaded.

Thank you everyone for all of your support these past two years! We couldn’t have made it this far without your help.

Status post graduation.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Last Test at School!

I have been remiss in writing a blog post, but I’m happy to say that finally our last test at WVU is over and finished! It’s good to know that the only remaining test is the ASCP certification exam. I’m still registered to take it back in Fresno, California six days after the last day of our rotation. I’m feeling confident that I can pass it right now if I were to take it.

This latest test has been good in reminding me certain areas that I should be focusing more time on. I did very well, but I have been neglecting studying forensic pathology and histology/stains. It’s not uncommon for people in this field to focus on one subject to the exclusion of all else. My pathology and anatomy are down pretty well pat.

Still I haven’t heard any word from USCIS and our application for the K-1 visa. It has been over 7 months now which is very unusual to say it lightly. I have called, but the only answer that I get is that the processing center is still very busy and has yet to reach our application. It’s a big kink in our future plans, but I have only one option and that is to wait.

The days in Pittsburgh have been growing colder and colder and for a person who is ill-adjusted to cold weather, many of my conversations with those around me at work are about the harrowing adventures trying to get to work. The weather and the road conditions can play a surprisingly large role in your mood for the rest of the day. In the morning, if the roads are really clogged, then we’ll know that our specimen load is going to be really heavy. Likewise, if there’s little traffic, then the workload for the day will more than likely be lighter. It’s got to be more than just a coincidence.

With only two more weeks to go it has come time to pack up some of our belongings and get organized for our last big move of the year. We are giving away or throwing out furniture that we will no longer need. I plan on going to Goodwill and seeing how much from us that they will take.

I’ll try and get some good pictures of our graduation ceremony and convocation brunch for your viewing pleasure. It’s all coming to a finale!