Thursday, July 16, 2009

Round and round we go!!

This week was pretty exhausting due to all the work I had to do, but at the same time I really enjoyed it. I work 4 days/week part-time so it's a good schedule for me given I'm still dealing with fatigue issues (think I may need to have my thyroid hormones evaluated). I also had my first "challenge" to my "credibility" by of course, a woman grad student!!!! So 2 weeks ago, she comes to the lab and says " Since you're new, I want to make sure your work is of the same quality as I got before, so I'm only going to give you 2 tissues to process, embed and make H&E slides from". I say cool!! Now have a very recent history of not getting along with women from small, midwestern towns and I've frequently found their "views" to be characteritic of 1920's rural Mississippi. So I complete the task but because I'm unable to give her the 3 sections/slide she requested (the tisseu is far too long), I decide not to stain them and I wait for her to get back to me on what she would like me to do. And I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and finally 1 week later she very snippily says to me by email "I thought we already agreed on what I wanted you to do", to which I reply, "Yes, because I was unable to do exactly what you requested, I emailed my results to you last week and asked you to come look at the slides before I proceeded with the H&E's". Now this young lady works for an Assist. prof which is rule #1 of who NOT to work for if you're trying to get a PhD because they are often "intense" due to their lack of tenure status. Obviously, miss snippy didn't get that memo, LOL!! So she finally consents to the work, and picked up the slides earlier this week but when I got an email from her yesterday which she copied her PI, that she wanted the three of us to meet to discuss the slides, I knew it wasn't a good situation. She was already peeved because she got her initial results late due to lack of email reading and because I wasn't able to do what the previous tech had done and that was put 3 sections on a slide. Of course the problem is that if she knew anything about science, she would have realized that inflammed tissues expand and that the size of the stomach tissue at week 1 would be significanlty different 7 weeks later given the protocol they were using. Not only that, there was significant necrosis which means that the sections weren't as "pretty" as the first ones she received. So they come to the lab to basically complain about the presence of wrinkles in the tissue. That was "my bad", this was one of the first cases I did and the water bath temp reads differently than it really is and of course, I had to learn that the hard way, LOL!! But the issue of the nuclei being "too dark" and that she couldn't distinguish them under the microscope was pure bullshit! I looked at the slides before making them available for pick up and while I did notice wrinkling, I also knew that any decent Pathologist could clearly see the process they were looking for. I mean hell, I'm not even doing research in their area currently but because I had done something similar in the past, I knew what they would be looking for. So I'm left with having to adjust my standard H&E protocol to appease them and that's cool by me, because they'll be charged accordingly!!! But the fact that they brought them back to me without having a Pathologist look at them first, teeed me off just a tad bit since I had taken time out of my limited schedule to basically talk to them about something that could have been handled by email!!! Bottom line is that you can't please all of the people all of the time, so don't even bother trying, and I say all that to say this. Many Scientists or Physicians have no real appreciation for just how critical a field Pathology is nor any real knowledge of it and that is a damn shame!

Movin' on, I recently learned that there is a new grad program director in charge of the PhD program I planned to do, so I decided to go speak with him. Well, it was a good new/bad news story. First, my informal meeting ended up being more like an real interview so recalling how I kinda blew it at the "informal" interview I had for the 5 year MD program, I was more than ready when he started shooting the probing questions my way. Turns out, he was the TA for a grad course I took in 1985 at the University of Florida and while he didn't remember me, I certainly remembered him because he was so attractive! So 10 minutes into the conversation he said "you really need to stay focused on getting into med school, followed by doing your residency at the NIH, and securing a position with a federal agency after that". Now there are some other details which I don't want to mention in the interest of privacy, but let's just say that this was absolutely NOT what I was expecting him to say AT ALL!! Then he said "I've revamped the PhD program here so if you're accepted, plan to spend at least 6 years here because I won't allow you to transfer anything in. You won't be allowed to keep your full-time lab position, so you may as well stick with your original plan". DAMN!!!!!!! Just was I was about to get comfortable with my Plan B, LOL!!!

Anyway, I just find it so funny that no matter how much and hard I try to run away from the idea of med school, it just keeps coming back up. Of course, sticking to my original plan is further enhanced by my position because no matter how well I read slides, I must always defer to a Pathologist for conformation of my findings. And while this is cool for now, I know sooner than later, this is going to really start to work my nerves.

So I've recommitted myself to med school, at least in my mind although I'm not sure sure about my time frame and I think matriculating sometime over the next 3-5 years may be much more realistic. However, my actions have never waned from studying for the MCAT which I plan to take next spring/summer!!!


  1. So, the talk with this ph.d. program director guy went well? You kinda say yes and no. ??

  2. It actually did go well formt he perspective of my being able to get a PhD in Path should I decide to go that route. The bad news, if you want to call it that, was that I'd have to quite my job to do it. No suprise there, I guess my preference going in was to be able to do both, but this conservation ended up serving as a reminder for me to stick with my original plan of getting an MD at some point in the future.