Rachel Jimenez brings ICU nursing experience to pathologists' assistant rotations

Rachel JiminezRachel Jimenez earned her bachelor of science in nursing degree at Oakland University and immediately began full-time working in the ICU at Karmanos Cancer Center. As a student in the Wayne State Pathologists' Assistant program since 2018, the South Lyon, Michigan, native has continued to work a few days per month.

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

I originally went to nursing school to go into nurse anesthesia, but after working in the ICU for a few years, I realized that my interests had changed and that patient care from a distance would be a good fit for me. I became interested in the science underlying the signs and symptoms that my patients presented with.  A pathologists' assistant is a happy medium because I am able to provide quality care for patients, but I get to remain behind the scenes. 

What's next after earning your PA degree?   

I feel that I would do well in an academic institution with a wide variety of specimens. I appreciate a challenge, so a surgical pathology lab that offers me plenty of opportunities to expand my knowledge would be great. 

How will your background as an ICU nurse inform your future profession as a PA? 

My background as a nurse has proven to be beneficial throughout the program with regard to familiarity with hospital workflow and interaction with physicians. As far as the actual job goes, it has been fun getting to gross a patient specimen at clinical and go into work the next day and care for that same patient in the ICU. Being able to provide patient care in multiple ways is very eye-opening and a good reminder that there is an actual person behind every specimen. 

What is it like to work in the ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic?  

Since March, the ICU has cared for all of the hospital's COVID-19+ patients, as it was best to restrict these patients to one floor. So my unit has seen the effects of COVID-19 firsthand and has really adapted to the necessary changes. There are not many COVID-19+ patients being admitted anymore, but throughout March and April, the unit was filled with them. We, like every other hospital, had very limited PPE, kept our IV pumps in the halls to reduce time in the patient's room, and took on additional roles as housekeeping was no longer permitted to clean the patients' rooms.  Nurses from all floors stepped up and helped out on other units they were not used to working on, and nurses were picking up overtime to help when staffing was inadequate. 

What inspired you to pursue a medical profession?  

Since I was about 6 years old, I knew I wanted to pursue a medical profession. I don't have any medical professionals in my family, but my brother and I had several health problems as children, and we were inspired to help others. He is an ICU nurse at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan.  My mom also recently started volunteering in her community as an EMT. 

What made you choose Wayne State for your PA degree?  

I am lucky to live so close to Wayne State. Although the location did play a factor, I was interested in the WSU PA program because of its many clinical site opportunities. I know many of the other programs do not offer the variety of clinical experiences that Wayne State does, so I am grateful to get the exposure to many local hospitals. 

What do you do to relax and recharge?  

This program does not offer much of an opportunity to relax and recharge, especially while also maintaining a job. However, the one thing I do every morning as my "me time" before clinical is get my workout in, and that helps me prepare for the day. I look forward to having more free time in the near future for outdoor activities, reading and maybe some Netflix bingeing. 

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