Posted: April 27, 2016
A photo of Dr. Bishara

When you visit the hospital you may interact with many care health providers.  What you may not know are the teams of people who are equally important in your care who work outside the walls of your hospital room.

Meet Dr. Mona Bishara, a pathologist for 6 years, is very thankful to be a part of the care team at GRH.  Dr. Bishara is passionate about helping patients on their road to recovery. 

1. Although you do not interact directly with patients, why is your work so vital to them?

The pathology practice is vital to patient care because the decision for treatment is, to a big extent, dependent on the results of biopsies and specimen collections (example bowel, stomach, lung and breast biopsies, and different types of cancer resections). While health care providers rely on blood work and a patient’s health history, and a radiologist relies on interpreting images, a pathologist is the only person who looks at real images of the tissues and cells collected. For this reason all other health care providers rely on the pathologist opinion to make a treatment decision.

2. Why did you choose your job?

I choose to be a pathologist for many reasons. Firstly, I used to practice hematopathology (blood pathology) back home in Egypt. During those years I helped families of kids with acute leukemia. This was very heart breaking, but although there were many success stories, I choose a job where I can diagnose patients so their suffering can end and they can move on to treatment and/or recovery. 

I also have a very good memory and a keen eye for detail (as I have been told by my staff at Ain Shams University in Egypt and at McMaster University in Hamilton). This is very crucial to be a good pathologist, mistakes are not an option. I also love to update myself on current medical practices and attend conferences both in the United States and overseas. The pathology practice definitely requires this.

3. What do you love about your job?

I am very thankful to be a pathologist. I feel so happy when I can make a diagnosis that helps put an end to a patients suffering and on the road to treatment and/or recovery.

Pathology is a very interesting practice. Every day I have new and challenging cases to solve, and sometimes even rare cases. Pathology is subject to new discoveries and classifications where we get to integrate molecular testing as a useful tool in tumor subclassification and management. Studying of tumors on molecular level helps us to understand how cancer develops and in developing what we call targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a therapy that targets cancer cells with little or no toxic effect on normal cells.

4. What is one thing you wish people knew about pathologists in the hospital?

I would like to explain that pathology is not simply taking a piece of tissue from a specimen and looking at it under a microscope. There are numerous steps that the tissue goes through until we have a good sample to work with and look at under a microscope for interpreting and producing results.

I also wish people knew that we would love to release all patient reports without any delay. When we delay, we do that for a reason, whether it being the need to do more testing or get an expert opinion by sending the case to one of the academic centers nearby like London or Toronto. We work hard and we try to do our best to get results to patients as soon as we can.

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