Pay It Forward

One of the most admirable facets of the Pathologists’ Assistant community is its dedication to students.  Hundreds of volunteer hours are donated each year by PAs serving as preceptors, generous alumni, and mentors.  We are a community of educators.

We have all been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Right now, students face unprecedented challenges.  Most programs are scheduled to begin clinical rotations in the upcoming months with students who have been unable to participate in wet labs or receive in-person teaching for over two months.  Even though the nation is beginning to open businesses and hospitals increase surgeries, many clinical sites are unable to immediately accept students, hindering the students' training and education.  It is also unknown whether an upsurge of the pandemic will force a mid-year break in training.

Programs are subject to the timelines of the larger educational bodies they belong to, and are unable to significantly alter the timeframe to match hospital availability.  The students affected have already completed one school year and have made life-altering decisions, anticipating the two-year timeframe with which they began graduate school.

Conversely, there is no replacement for grossing.  The loss of clinical time cannot be solved, only cushioned.  Although the delay will hopefully be minimal, for many students it will still exist.  The students of the class of 2021 cannot do anything more to help their situation.

But We Can

The AAPA and the NAACLS accredited Pathologists’ Assistant training programs are spearheading a joint effort to create a central repository of resources for students that aims to lessen the impact of missing wet labs and the beginning of the clinical experience.  This virtual arena will allow the programs to share resources with each other, but also to equally benefit from community submitted videos, lectures, and materials.  The programs have created a “wish list” of the types of educational material that would be most impactful.  The most sought-after resource is the recording of specimen examination, especially “introductory” specimens being grossed by trained PAs.

Fellow member Roseann Vitale has created an impressive example that combines video, narrative, and comparative pathology, which can be viewed below.  If you cannot commit to a project of that magnitude, though, even a video with no audio showing grossing technique is valuable.

There is also a need for gross photos, lecture materials, and review help – regardless of workplace constraints you may face, there is likely some way you can help if you are interested.  Please consider visiting the AAPA website to view more video samples, instructions, FAQs, and other ways to help.  The hope is that after everything returns to normal, this method can continue to be a way to consolidate resources to ensure that every student has access to the best training possible.

The classes of 2020 and 2021 will be our colleagues and friends.  We have the opportunity right now to make a real difference in their training and in the training of future generations of PAs.  We can build a collection of educational materials as a proactive measure should a situation like this arise again.

Let's Rise to the Challenge

Visit the Grossing Video webpage for full details.

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