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Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Meet Ian Sue-Chue-Lam

Ian Sue-Chue-Lam, Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Pathologists' Assistant, Class of 2018


Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Undergraduate: Queen's University, BS in Life Sciences
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Pathologists' Assistant, Class of 2018

Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?

Before coming to Drexel, I was a student with a passion for anatomy and pathology without a clue as to how I could apply those interests for work. The pathologists' assistant profession offered a solution to my uncertainty as a hands-on, in demand career that also encompassed my interests.

Why did you decide to apply to Drexel's Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) program?

I decided to apply to Drexel's PathA program because it offers a very thorough didactic and practical curriculum. The program gives you a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge, and then allows you to essentially work as a PA in a variety of hospital settings. The program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS), meaning that it fulfills North American standards for pathologists' assistant education. Drexel is also located in Philadelphia, a city with a lot to offer in terms of food, scenery and culture.

What was your experience in the program like?

Overall, my experience was very positive. I felt like I learned more about the whole process of grossing and histology than I would have at other schools. I had the opportunity to gross, embed, cut, stain and histologically examine specimens all before I reached my practical year. Drexel's curriculum is truly comprehensive.

What did you like most about the program?

I really liked how the program connected me with all sorts of pathology professionals who were able to guide and support me in my own path to become a PA. These professionals were pathologists, residents, histotechnologists, lab assistants and other PAs, and they all contributed to my understanding of the big picture of surgical pathology. I feel like my abilities and confidence as a PA all stem from those interactions.

What was your relationship like with the PathA faculty?

Since our class size was so small, we were able to build close relationships with the PathA faculty members. The faculty did more than teach. They were mentors who gave us added opportunities to help us develop our knowledge and succeed as professionals.

How was your relationship with your classmates?

My classmates were all amazing! It was great being surrounded by like-minded people who shared similar goals. It also wasn't uncommon for students in our year to consult the class in the year above us for help with housing, coursework and job hunting. Being a Drexel graduate also connects you to a supportive network of Drexel PathA alumni.

The PathA program offers a year of practical work in the field. Where did you work during that time, and what was that experience like?

I had the opportunity to rotate through the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Abington Hospital, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office. It felt great to see my technical skills improve as I progressed through the year. There were excellent teachers at each of my rotations, and they ensured that I had the skills I needed to enter the working world.

What are you doing for work now?

I'm currently working as a PA at the University Health Network. It's a network of large academic hospitals in downtown Toronto.

Would you recommend the PathA program to others who are interested in this field?

Absolutely. The education you receive from this program will prepare you well as a PA.

Do you have any advice for future PathA students?

For new applicants, I would stress the fact that these programs are becoming increasingly competitive, so do everything you can to be a strong applicant. Shadowing is a must, and make sure you exceed the academic cutoffs set by the program. For current students, make the most out of your time in the program, and take advantage of every learning opportunity you can.

Graduate students in the Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) program at Drexel University College of Medicine.