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A small but powerful team

By Darrien Miller

The Master of Clinical Pathologists’ Assistant Program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry may be small in size, but that doesn’t take anything away from the impact of their work and commitment to the community. We sat down with one of just six students in the program, Stephanie Sharpley, to understand how the department separates itself from others and provides students a highly specialized experience.

“The two-year clinical based program offers a different perspective on the health care system. It provides a rich environment for practical and theoretical learning,” Sharpley said.

With more than a year spent in clinical laboratory rotations across Ontario including London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), Toronto Forensic Unit, Mount Sinai Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, students work through rotations that are diverse and learn from talented and knowledgeable individuals.

“Because pathology in general is kind of a mystery, people are often confused as to what it entails – it’s not just disease. Working through different rounds and interacting with medical staff allows us to gain experience in many different areas, which is one of the most unique aspects of the department,” Sharpley said.

The six students are supported by a team of faculty, staff, pathologist assistants and laboratory technologists. And thanks to efficient communication and a team-focused environment, the students are able to excel in their studies and work.

It’s a busy operation that like so many other clinical programs is teaching while providing care.

“Patient material is initially triaged by our administrative staff and then examined and processed clinically by our pathologists' assistants and laboratory technologists,” said Nancy Chan, program director.

Chan explained that once the initial triaging takes place, pathologists examine the material under the microscope and make diagnoses critical for patient management and treatment. The students then participate in interdisciplinary rounds and meetings to ensure patients get the best care.

When the students aren’t at the grossing bench picking specimens for the day, they spend their time studying together and are involved in a variety of local charities, including the LHSC Food Drive.

The students are joined by the faculty and staff team, who are the undisputed champions of the LHSC’s Food Drive – feel free to visit their trophy.

“We work hard as part of the bigger team to provide the best quality patient care,” added Chan.