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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education, Laboratory management, Clinical care

When Coffee Is More Than Just Coffee

A pathologist’s work is not easy – and, after two decades, the Peace Corps offered a welcome change of pace. Susan Oupadia learned that, though every country is plagued by the same medical and bureaucratic issues, the cultural challenges vary widely. To help overcome those challenges, enter the Albanian tradition of “coffee” – a lengthy break for collaboration among colleagues.

My work as a pathologist was taking its toll. The daily grind, challenging group dynamics, demanding clinicians, difficult cases that kept me up all night… After 20 years in practice, I needed a break. It’s a feeling many pathologists experience. But, after endless discussion and soul-searching, my cardiologist husband and I decided to break the mold by pursuing our lifelong dream of joining the Peace Corps.

To begin with, we were not at all sure where we would be placed or what we would be doing – but we finally got word that we would serve in the post-communist Baltic country of Albania. The health sector staff at Peace Corps Albania found what was probably the one placement in the whole world that was perfect for me: to establish an anatomic pathology laboratory in the second-largest city in the country.

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About the Author

Susan Oupadia

Retired anatomic and clinical pathologist; currently reads slides digitally from Uganda via the ASCP Partners in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa Initiative.

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