E. Heidi Cheek, MHS, PA(ASCP)CM
AAPA member since 2008
"I believe I best promote our profession as an educator. Education has long been a passion for me, from tutoring in high school and working as a teaching assistant in undergrad, to my current involvement with teaching in our pathology residency program. Fortunately, working at Mayo Clinic has provided a myriad of opportunities to pursue and showcase my passion for educating, and not only in traditional settings such as autopsy and surgical pathology.
In our unique surgical pathology practice, we perform frozen sections on a comparatively large number of cases, often with surgeons present in the lab. This creates a fast-paced and sometimes challenging learning environment for our trainees (both residents and PA students). To help PGY-1 trainees acclimate to the laboratory, I helped to create a lumpectomy 'short-course' that utilizes breast tissue procured from consented autopsies to teach trainees how to approach the specimens in a focused learning environment. In addition, my colleagues and I lecture on grossing and tumor staging guidelines for complex resections, with each of us focusing on a subset of our favorite specimens. To help residents with autopsy, I worked with faculty members to create videos that highlight fundamental approaches to dissecting a heart, and provide structured training on cutting in the conduction system. Finally, as a member of our placenta rotation group, I help with gross dissection of placenta cases, preview of microscopy, and preparation of diagnostic reports for the pathologist to review. This has led to additional teaching opportunities, including giving lectures on macroscopic and microscopic placental anatomy to our pathology residents, neonatology fellows, and maternal and fetal medicine fellows.
For my efforts towards education I recently received Mayo Clinic’s Allied Health 2019 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Innovation & Leadership in Education Award. Previously, I was recognized by the ASCP as an honoree of 40 Under Forty in 2017 for vision and innovation in education. In serving as an educator, I hope to increase the visibility of our profession to future pathologists and clinicians, and highlight the diverse and continuously expanding roles PAs play in the care of the patient."
Are you a PA promoting the profession? Do you present at conferences to spread the word about PAs? Offer job shadowing opportunities? Educate students on what it takes to become a pathologists' assistant? We want to share your story! Send us a summary describing how you promote the PA profession and one or two high-resolution photos, and you may be our next featured member! Alternately, if you know a colleague who goes above and beyond to spread awareness of PAs and their role in the lab, submit a nomination for your fellow member to be featured next!