Crystal Leung- Pathologists’ Assistant


Crystal Leung

Pathologists’ Assistant, Duke University Health System, USA

Class of 2002


Career – Quick Facts

Career Path: e.g. post-secondary
Annual (Gross) Salary:
Canadian Schools offering:

Social Interaction
Problem Solving
Physical Requirement

1. What year did you graduate secondary school?
– 2002

2. What is your current job title?
– Pathologists’ Assistant

3. Where and for whom do you currently work for now?
– Durham, North Carolina, USA
Duke University Health System – Surgical Pathology Laboratory

4. What inspired you to pursue your career?
– Interests in Sciences, especially anatomy and pathology. Bachelor’s in Medical Laboratory Science led me to work in the Histology Lab where I was exposed to human lungs and hearts specimens and sparked my interests in examining diseased organs.

5. What do you love about your career?
– That I play a behind the scene role in patient care and that what I do ultimately helps with the diagnosis of the patients’ illness and the subsequent treatments they receive. I love that every day is different, challenging, and I get to see a variety of diseases in different human organs. This is also a life-long learning career. I also enjoy the teaching of students and residents how to dissect specimens.

6. Any negatives about your job to share?

7. What characteristics are ideal for someone pursuing your career?
– Attention to details, efficient, flexible and adaptable, willingness to continue to learn throughout the career, interests in anatomy and the human body, comfortable with handling human organs and human cadavers

8. What is the most rewarding part of your career?
– Having an impact in patient care. Knowing that what I do plays an important role in how the patient gets treated by their clinicians. Ideal salary (currently in the US).

9. What courses would you recommend to take during highschool to help in your career path?
– Biology, Chemistry – all science courses!

10.Describe your academic and non-academic path to your profession (the more detail the better!)
– I had an early interest in the human body and forensic science in high school. I focused on science courses in UBC and came across the program of Medical Laboratory Science. All the courses appealed to me and so I switched my major from BSc in Animal Physiology to Med Lab Science. I learned about pathology, anatomy, physiology, histology etc. in this program and fell in love! I knew I wanted to work in a lab from a more technical perspective like tissue cutting. I became a lab assistant in the Heart and Lung Institute in the Biobank/Histology Lab after graduation and quickly put my degree to technical use. I learned to dissect human lungs and hearts and transform these tissue into stained slides for the pathologists to diagnose the disease. Working alongside the pathologists solidify my interests in pathology, but I was more intrigued with the actual handling and cutting of the tissue and not so much in sitting behind the microscope looking at slides all day. The pathologists I worked for told me about the career as a Pathologists’ Assistant (PA) and I looked into it. It was exactly what I want to do! I applied and this was one of the best decisions I’ve made!

11. What do you like to do for fun?
– Hiking, travelling, trying new restaurants,

12. Favourite hockey team or proudest Canadian thing?
– Vancouver Canucks!!!!

13. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger highschool self?
– Explore different career options by looking at extra-curricular programs that give you an insight in what that career actual entails. Contact different places and see if they will allow you to do shadowing for a few hours here or there. Look beyond your local universities and consider studying abroad or somewhere else in Canada.

14. If you are okay to be contacted by students, what contact would you be okay to leave to communicate with you? (ie. email, work number, etc.)
– email

May I contact you with questions?
-Sure! Shoot an e-mail to with the subject line “Contact: (full name)” and your question.
(Responses may take some time.)
-Sorry, not at this time.

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