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Pathologists' Assistant Program Meet Rachel Olk
PathA Program Class of 2023

Rachel Olk, Drexel Pathologists’ Assistant Class of 2023

Hometown: Dubuque, Iowa
Undergraduate: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Graduate: Pathologists’ Assistant Class of 2023

Early on in my professional career, I realized graduate school was something I would hope to pursue. I worked as a medical laboratory scientist at a large county hospital in Minneapolis, and the work combined with the interactions I had with pathologists and Pathologists’ Assistants helped informed my choice of graduate education. When I decided to take the next steps, I was worried the transition back to school would be difficult, since I had been out of college for five years — did I even remember how to study?

The process of applying and interviewing for graduate school was simultaneously exciting and scary. The process represented the beginning of a new chapter in life and the opportunity to change career paths. However, it was intimidating at the same time because it meant uprooting my life in Minneapolis and leaving the field in which I had worked and studied for nearly five years.

Drexel’s Pathologists’ Assistant program stood out to me from the beginning of my search. The curriculum focuses on making connections between what is learned in the classroom and practical applications during rotations. Students are taught how to apply their knowledge rather than simply memorizing. At this point, it seems to me that the theme of the program is to encourage students to answer the question “How can I apply this clinically?”

Roughly one month in, I have primarily learned that graduate school is academically challenging yet motivating. My cohort’s communal nature has been key to getting through the first few weeks, whether via study groups and review sessions or late-night texts of “Could someone explain this to me?” Even though our classes have been mostly remote so far, being able to collaborate personally and academically has been key. While graduate school is ultimately about individual success, the cohort and the program’s pursuit of student success has been essential to staying motivated with the day-to-day grind of my graduate education.