Professional development

Many of the pathologists' assistant programs either require or strongly recommend that applicants spend some time in a lab, observing the job responsibilities of a practicing pathologists' assistant. Shadowing requirements can vary in both length and location. The WSU Pathologists' Assistant program requires a minimum of eight hours of shadowing experience in a surgical lab setting and a minimum of five hours in a medical examiner setting. It is the student's responsibility to know what the shadowing requirements and recommendations are for the programs they plan to apply to. 

Most programs do not have the ability to provide shadowing opportunities for applicants. As such, the PMHSC advisors recommend that students who are interested in shadowing reach out directly to pathologists' assistants currently working in a healthcare system. The chances that working PAs had to shadow to get in their program are good and they often welcome undergraduate students pursuing the pathologists' assistant career. The PMHSC advisors suggest checking local hospital systems for pathology labs first when looking for PAs to shadow. Most PAs working in Michigan work in the surgical setting.   

The observations an applicant makes during shadowing and is able to articulate in writing or during an interview can set them apart from other applicants. The PMHSC advisors suggest preparing a list of questions about program curriculum and clinical rotations, the profession and day-to-day responsibilities prior to shadowing. Shadowing settings may vary in terms of what a student is permitted to bring in so be prepared with a notebook or something to record responses with to use during or after your shadowing experience.  

The WSU PA program requires that shadowing hours be documented on WSU specific forms. The Surgical shadowing form and forensic shadowing form can be found on the CPHS website