Christopher Cubel earned pathologists' assistant stripes in ME's office during COVID-19


Christopher CubelWayne State pathologists' assistant student Christopher Cubel was in rotation at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since advanced to a rotation at DMC Children's Hospital. Cubel, who is originally from Milford, Michigan, earned his bachelor's in biochemistry from Grand Valley State University and expects to graduate from the WSU Master of Pathologists' Assistant program in September 2020. 

What inspired you to pursue a career as a pathologists’ assistant?  

I really enjoy the health care field in general. Growing up I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but as I got older I drifted into more lab-related interests. The role as a PA is interesting because I get to see new specimens every single day, but I still interact with doctors and surgeons regularly. I get to feel the excitement of providing care to patients, while still not directly engaging with them. I feel like I am helping people. 

What has been your favorite aspect of the Wayne State PA program so far?  

One of my favorite aspects of the PA program is all of the different rotations that I have been through during the second year. I have rotated at numerous hospitals around Metro Detroit and have learned from a number of different preceptors. This has given me a great base knowledge of different ways to gross.  

What made you choose Wayne State for your PA degree?  

I chose Wayne State because I am a Michigander. Knowing that I could go to school and also be around my family and friends was a no-brainer. It also helps that they provide a great education and have rotations that some of the other PA schools do not, including a minimum six-week rotation through a fairly busy medical examiner's office. That is a valuable rotation. All in all, it just seemed like an easy choice.  

What was it like to work in the medical examiner’s office during the pandemic?  

It was certainly interesting working in the medical examiner's office during a pandemic like this. Most of the work there has the potential to involve COVID-19. They swab most of the decedents who come through for the coronavirus, and thus they are able to get some good data about the virus and its community spread. The work they do is invaluable and the research that they conduct can help drive policy decisions. It feels good to know that you are helping out, even if it's a small thing.  

What's next after earning your PA degree?   

I originally wanted to be a traveling PA, similar to a traveling nurse or physician, but that dream, like many things, has been stymied by COVID-19. With elective surgeries being postponed or canceled, the available work for our profession has seen a decrease. My goal as of right now is to secure a more permanent position. I am looking to move to New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts or South Carolina. Those are my top destinations, but I am open to others.  

What do you do to relax and recharge?  

When I finally get some free time, I like to play sports and be outside. It is nice to get some energy out of your system, but I also enjoy sitting on the couch and watching TV. Sometimes it's more of the latter, but life is all about balance, ya know? 

What has helped you succeed in PA school?  

I would certainly like to give a shoutout to my friends and family who have helped me get through this program. It definitely takes a good support system. I'd like to thank my professors and preceptors who have given me all of their knowledge so that I may be a better PA and go on to give my knowledge to the next generation.  

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