RE: PA Job Description


I am REALLY sorry that so many of you have had bad experiences with Pathologists' Assistants.  I am at this minute looking out my window waiting for an angry mob of Histotechs with pitchforks and microtome blades to come across the hill and drag me out to be whole mounted.  Surely we can't all be that bad and I would like to think that most of us are pleasant to work with.  I myself am a pretty easygoing, happy guy that just wants to get through today's specimens.  There does seem to be a lot of misconceptions out there and I guess it could be expected.  The Pathologists' Assistant profession is just starting to really grow even though it has been around for about thirty years.  I have only been a fellow for about 4 years and the membership has grown from about 300 to 750.  I hope the problems that you have had with the PAs you have encountered is the exception to the rule.  Hopefully PAs, like any other profession, have just a few snots in the bunch.  (I thought "snots" was a better word than what I really wanted to type) 

Charles R. Embrey Jr. PathAssist(AAPA), HT(ASCP)
Histology Manager
Carle Clinic, Urbana Illinois 

-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Murphy []
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 8:02 PM
To: Elliott Grammon; 'Charles.Embrey'; 'Rushing, Roxane'; ''; Soto, Roxanne
Subject: RE: PA Job Description

I have to agree with Roxanne.  I have worked with a number of PA's in two different settings and I have found the majority of them to be arrogant and self serving.  They never went above and beyond their assigned responsibilities and when the work load dictated that they have to work past quitting time all I heard was complaints.  As a histotech they would not listen about filling the cassettes too much or about thick tissues not being able to process.  You would think with tha amount of money they get paid they should have some knowledge of the chemistry of fixation and processing.  Among other things it is rare that a PA would close a cassette, make up extra cassettes,  or double check numbers and names.  PA's seem to be able to have the "better than thou" attitude because they do the work the pathologists do not want to do.  And the pathologist do not like life without a PA
I might sound bitter but I have over 12 years experience as a histotechnologist, a HTL, a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Masters Degree in Health Administration.  I was recently hired as a histology supervisor and I was recently fired from the same position.  I believe the reason for my firing was because the PA there felt threatened by me and made up lies about my work performance to get me fired. 
My advise to you is make sure you extensively inteview any perspective PA before you hire them.  They all can't be bad I just ran into some of the worst.  I also worked with a PA who I became good friends with.  I just needed to vent thank you for the forum.
Terry Murphy

Elliott Grammon <> wrote:
Quite remarkable really !
We have no PA's, but are looking to hire one soon. 
From this PA job description discussion, I'll definitely 
make sure the one we hire has in his / her  WRITTEN contract 
all the duties listed. For the  $40- $55 per hour they get, 
they don't appear to do much, from Roxanne's
description anyhow.
I may rethink hiring one altogether.
What did you mean Roxanne, by the statement " ...more problems..." ???
Elliott Osterhaus, MD,PhD
--------- Original Message ---------
DATE: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 12:04:12
From: "Soto, Roxanne" <>
To: "'Charles.Embrey'" <>,"'Rushing, Roxane'" <>,"''" <>

I have been following this posting on the PA duties and I have a question.  I have read the job description that Charles sent and I am very confused about this.  Can you tell me what exactly the PA's do at your sites?  We are a multi-sited system and we have 4 PA's and 2 sites have 2 PA's in the morning and the other 2 sites have 1 in the afternoon.  The PA's that we have do not always verify the accession number is correct or that it matches the reqs (as this is a lab aide job and they are PA's and it is not their job to verify the lab aides work).  We have to have a Lab Aide work with each PA, side by side, to close cassettes, clean instruments between specimens, etc.  So, I have to pay these lab aides for full time work to stand by the PA all day to basically make and close the cassettes.  I even had one PA tell me that they were unfamiliar with the processors.  They do no filing, no maintenance of equipment, no cleaning.  We even have 1 site that if a PA calls out sick we need to send a histologists to be there all day to act as a lab aide because they can't, or won't, do it one their own.  Is this typical?
One more thing----please do not copy this and put it on the PA list-server, as I do not want, nor do I need, any more problems with our PA's.
-----Original Message-----
From: Charles.Embrey []
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 10:54 AM
To: 'Rushing, Roxane'; ''
Subject: RE: PA Job Description

Based on the AAPA Code of Regulations and reviewed by a committee of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) in 1994

At the direction and under the supervision of a Pathologist(s), a Pathologists' Assistant may perform the following tasks and assume the responsibility for duties including the following:

bullet Preparation, gross description and dissection of human tissue surgical specimens including:

A. Assuring appropriate specimen accessioning.

B. Obtaining clinical history, including scans, x-rays, laboratory data, etc.

C. Describing gross anatomic features, dissecting surgical specimens, and preparing tissues for histologic processing.

D. Obtaining biological specimens such as blood, tissue and toxicological material for studies such as flow cytometry, image analysis, immunohistochemistry etc., and performing special procedures including Faxitron imaging and tumor triage.

E. Photographing all pertinent gross specimens and microscopic slides.

F. Performing duties relating to the administrative maintenance of surgical pathology protocols, reports and data, including the filing of reports, protocols, photographic and microscopic slides; assuring the completion of specimen coding; and billing.

G. Assuring proper maintenance of equipment, provision of adequate supplies, and cleanliness of the surgical pathology suite.

H. Assisting in the organization and coordination of anatomic pathology conferences.

bullet Preparation of human postmortem examinations including:

A. Ascertaining proper legal authorization for autopsy.

B. Retrieving the patient's medical chart and other pertinent data for review with the attending pathologist(s).

C. Conferring with the attending pathologist(s) to identify any special techniques and procedures to be utilized in the completion of the postmortem examination, (e.g. cultures; smears; histochemical, immunofluorescence, toxicological, viral, or electron microscopy studies etc.), and notifying all personnel directly involved.

D. Notifying the physician in charge, the funeral home, and all other appropriate authorities prior to the beginning of the autopsy; and coordinating any requests for special specimen sampling (e.g. organ transplantation, research, etc.).

E. Performing postmortem examinations which may include: external examination; in situ organ inspection; evisceration; dissection and dictation or recording of data such as organ weights, presence of body fluids etc., and gross anatomic findings.

F. Selecting, preparing and submitting appropriate gross tissue sections for frozen section analysis as well as for light, electron and immunofluorescent microscopy.

G. Obtaining biological specimens such as blood, tissue and toxicological material for studies including flow cytometry, image analysis, immunohistochemistry etc.; and performing special procedures such as coronary artery perfusion, central nervous system perfusion, enucleation, inner ear bone dissection, spinal cord removal, etc.

H. Photographing the body, organs, microscopic slides and other pertinent materials.

I. Gathering and organizing clinical information and data pertinent to the preparation of the preliminary summarization of the clinical history.

J. Preparing the body for release (including indicating the presence of biohazards such as contagious disease, radiation implants, etc.), and releasing the body to the appropriate mortuary or funeral home representative.

K. Performing duties related to administrative maintenance of anatomic pathology protocols; photographic and microscopic slides; and assuring the completion of coding.

L. Assisting in the organization and coordination of anatomic pathology conferences.

M. Assuring the proper maintenance of equipment, the provision of adequate supplies, and the cleanliness of the autopsy suite.

bullet Performing such administrative, budgetary, supervisory, teaching, and other duties as may be assigned.
-----Original Message-----
From: Rushing, Roxane []
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 10:22 AM
To: ''
Subject: PA Job Description

Do any of you have an official P.A. job description that you would share? (Not lab assistants, Pathologist Assistants, P.A.)

--e-mail or fax to 225-766-6050


Thanks in advance,

Roxane Rushing

Pathology Group of La.


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