Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stay in YOUR own lane, the eat YOUR own words edition, LOL!!!!

I suppose it's inevitable that a person who's taken medical school courses in Pathology and Histology (among a few others), graduate courses in Anatomy and Physiology, a course in medical terminology, and who's read more pathology reports than she can count, that when asked to describe the staining pattern of something she see's under the microscope, is going use language that sounds a LOT like that of a real Pathologist. And what I've never understood in the past 3 of the last 4 jobs I've had in the past 3/4 years, is why that seems to be such a problem for so many people. (Some of you may recall my blog entry from my last job where the toothless, physically challenged Vet/PhD exclaimed during a meeting to discuss results, "Well maybe Path201X ought to be the Pathologist". And no, the ooogly, insecure witch (that couldn't get tenure on her previous gig) didn't mean that 'ish as a compliment!!!

Well, it turns out that since 2005 when I worked for one the best Surgical Pathologists in the world I have, according to some, had a very serious case of the "you need to stay in my own lane" syndrome. And for those who don't understand the term, that's basically equivalent to someone feeling that you putt your nose in something where they believe it doesn't belong.

Now when I started my cancer research predoctoral training at the NCI/NIH using methods germane to Pathology/Histology, I was surrounded by MD and MD/PhD, DO/PhD Pathology residents and as one of few in the group without that training (I hadn't had medical histology or pathology at that point either), the learning curve was like Mount Everest. And the language I was encouraged to speak in when I was pimped during sign out or in conferences was expected to be in the "language" everyone else was speaking in. That means that while I probably could have gotten away with describing an IHC stain for CD3 in spleen as "the slide shows mainly +4 staining", things went over just a tad bit better when I said "There are areas in the red pulp which show a high degree of necrosis and are +1 and there's extensive staining (4+) in the lymphocytes of the white pulp". Normally, showing things like initiative, enthusiasm, and strong interest to learn new things is encouraged even in Industry, But rarely in my 20+ career, have I felt encouraged on the same level as "others" are to do the same with few exceptions.

Okay, racial statement alert, racial statement alert!!!!

It seems to me that EVERYONE else around me in scientific research, especially those of Asian descent, are not only encouraged to show initiative, enthusiasm, talent and strong interest, but are rewarded with accolades when they do. " Good 'ol Freddy Chin, he really works hard" or "that Susan Bhatacharrya really knows how to get in there and get the job done!!!" However, in the past 3/4 years when I've done that EXACT same thing, some of "da people" almost always ascribe words/phrases like "arrogant" or with the toothless one, "PAth201X's trying to be a Pathologist" or my all-time favorite "Path201X's trying to make me look bad" LOL?? Now why IS that??? Why wasn't my "behavior" seen as arrogance at the NIH/NCI? It wasn't arrogance the semester I spent as a visiting student at FAMU either (I just had to bring that up, I LOVE me some Rattlers, Pssssssssssssss!!!)). And while I was told I was arrogant by the woman PhD who also told me I thought I was cute when I initially worked as a Chemist in Industry, having strong mentors there helped to quickly squash that BS!!!!! However the "cute" comment stayed with me, LOL!!!!

Unfortunately, a Black person's work ethic is frequently characterized as lazy especially if you believe the hype in the media, and yeah I understand there are situations where that applies. However since 1986 when I started doing research, often the assumption for a Black person who's confident and works hard in a lab setting is that they're arrogant and occasionally trying to make others look bad, a term I hear especially about Africans these days (remember the African guy I tried to hire earlier this year? I thought he was brilliant, "they" though he was VERY arrogant and he was NOT hired). Well no offense, but if I've got 2 Master's and 2 Bachelor's and you've got an AA, exactly how difficult is it going to be for Path201X or anyone else to make you "look bad" in a professional setting if we're going head to head on a topic where we both have expertise? (Okay, that might sound a tad arrogant, LOL) . Now for clarity, I'm NOT talking about talking down to people, or making them feel as if their knowledge isn't valuable or that they have no professional contributions to make because I'm sure we all know of real life examples of people with professional skills that far exceed their educational training level. What I'm talking about is instead of feeling threatened by someone else's expertise or the fact that theymay know more than you about a particular subject, the insecure one simply get off its hatin', lazy bum and educate itself!!! Interestingly, but certainly NOT ironically, the more educated the folks are I work around are, the less often I hear "complaints" about my work ethic. And having dealt with this off and on for years on end, I'm sure that 'ish ain't no coincidence!

Which brings me to my current gig, do I "pump my brakes" as my sister would say on my professional acumen especially around the interview killer with the AA "who no speaka no pathology language", or do I say to hell with that, and do my job??? Anyone who reads my blog regularly can probably answer that for themselves, which means I'm in for yet another roller coaster ride on the J.O.B............. that is until I matriculate in med school where it seems there are PLENTY of people of ALL colors with initiative, enthusiasm, talent and a VERY strong interest in what they do.

697.......................................697 days until I start med school, God willing!


  1. Darnit, I keep losing my comment. Third time is the charm?

    Don't pump your brakes, path. Be proud of what you know and don't let interview killer bring you down. I can't wait to hear about your MCAT and interview process this year. You are on your way.


  2. Thanks Kris! Your support and encouragement means more than you'll EVER know!