Apr 15, 2024

Meet Adryan: Pathologists’ Assistant-in-training on PA Day!

Programs: Graduate, Programs: MHSc Lab Medicine, Inclusive community, Clinical Laboratory Services
Adryan Korzen
By Jenni Bozec

The Canadian Association of Pathologists (CAP-ACP) and American Association of Pathologists' Assistants (AAPA) have declared April 14 as Pathologists’ Assistant Day. 

Pathologists’ Assistants, known as PAs, are vital members of a pathology laboratory. From evaluating specimens macroscopically to performing autopsies and managing laboratory operations, they are highly trained professionals providing essential patient care.
They are also an important part of the community in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology so we’re taking this moment to say thank you to all the PAs – colleagues, teachers, students. Happy PA Day to you all!

Adryan Korzen is in the first year of our MHSc in Laboratory Medicine: Pathologists’ Assistant Field and tells us why he wants to join this profession.

Why do you want to become a PA?

“I’ve always been intrigued by the vast complexity of human pathology and the ways diseases can alter the human body. I completed my undergraduate degree in pathology and physiology, which solidified my interest in pursuing the Pathologists’ Assistant program. 

What drew me in was the combination of intricate didactic education with hand-on clinical training in surgical and forensic pathology. I’ve always envisioned myself working in a hospital setting, largely contributing to patient care behind the scenes. 

The collaborative nature of laboratory medicine really resonated with my career goals, particularly working alongside various specialists and healthcare professionals. I thoroughly enjoy investigating the mysteries of complex diseases while ensuring the best possible care for the patients.”

What were you doing before you joined the MHSc in Laboratory Medicine program?

“Before I joined the program, I was working as a Teaching Assistant for gross anatomy courses at Western University. I was involved in various projects within the Division of Clinical Anatomy, where I met incredible professors who supported me throughout my studies. 

Being in the laboratory environment opened my eyes to the behind-the-scenes aspect of medicine, which really has driven me to purse this career. I am forever grateful for all the experiences I got by working in the anatomy lab, as it laid a solid foundation for continuing my graduate journey and my professional development.” 

What have been your highlights in the PA program so far?

“The best part of this journey so far has been learning from a diverse range of specialists and field experts. University of Toronto is affiliated with world’s leading hospitals and faculty, which provide me with access to incredible resources and mentors along the way. 

I also had an opportunity to teach gross anatomy to medical and dentistry students, which further strengthen my love for pedagogy within higher education. I want to continue developing my teaching skills in a professional environment, as I hope to be affiliated with academic institution in the future. I am extremely thrilled by the opportunities I’ve been given so far and I can’t wait to translate what I’ve learned into my clinical practice.” 

What have you learned about the profession that has surprised you so far?

“Since starting the program, I was surprised how many research methods can be utilized in our future career. 

This program emphasizes the importance of research, which I believe is especially vital in the ever-changing field of pathology. As Pathologists’ Assistants, we’re equipped with skills crucial for biobanking of different human tissues. These samples are subsequently used in research to advance our understanding of human pathogenesis. The intersection of clinical practice and research highlights how important our role is in advancing medical knowledge.”

Why do you think PAs are such an important part of a Laboratory Medicine team?

“PAs are a vital part of the Laboratory Medicine team because we alleviate the tasks that were originally only performed by the physicians. 

Serving as the initial eyes for the pathologists, we thoroughly document the macroscopic findings from surgical tissues, which provides crucial insights into patient diagnoses. We are trained in grossing complex specimens to select appropriate samples that are used to facilitate accurate staging and diagnosis. We are also trained in performing medical and forensic autopsies, shining light into the causes of mortality. 

More importantly, I believe we are a significant part of the Laboratory Medicine team because we collectively work behind the scenes to provide the best patient care possible.” 

Find out more about our Pathologists' Assistant Program

This story showcases the following pillars of the LMP strategic plan: Agile Education (pillar 5)