Veralucia "Lou" Mendes-Kramer, PA(ASCP)CM
AAPA member since 2012
"My role as a Pathologists’ Assistant program director, instructor, and practicing PA involves educating not just current and prospective PA students, but also other healthcare professionals or those looking for a different professional path in patient care in the Pathologists’ Assistant day-to-day responsibilities. I truly enjoy showcasing and discussing what PAs do and where we stand as practitioners in healthcare, but there is nothing more inspiring than showing and discussing our profession with kids. I am often asked to attend STEM and Career Day events, host laboratory sessions in anatomy, forensics, and professional practice to middle and high schoolers who have expressed interest in learning more about our profession.
In March 2019, I hosted a small anatomy lab session for a middle school interested in knowing more about anatomy and the importance of this discipline in health care. It was a lot of fun to introduce these students to real organs, seeing their interest in anatomy, and hearing their responses to questions about disease and disease processes. Rather than being scared or intimidated by the cadaver lab and all the organs, they were interested in touching the organs and had really great questions about a PA’s involvement with disease and diagnosis, as well as with autopsies.
In November 2019, I was invited by the National Heritage Academies to participate in their Career Day, and here I met with almost 200 students and discussed how one becomes a PA, what the PA profession entails, and how we compare with other healthcare professionals.
I find it incredibly important to not only create hands-on opportunities for kids to learn more about our career, but also to mentor students who express interest in pursuing a career in health care. Currently, I mentor two juniors from a local high school who reached out to me after I attended a STEM event at their school wanting to prepare for a future career as a PA. Our meetings often involve discussing the importance of certain high school courses, facilitating shadowing in gross labs, and discussing the pros and cons of our profession. It has been very rewarding, both personally and professionally, to raise awareness of our profession in these various settings and to see the growing interest – and at times, awe – in what we do at the gross bench or autopsy table."
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!
Photo Credits: Top Right – Courtesy of Veralucia Mendes-Kramer; Bottom Left – Courtesy of Call Photography