View Full Version : Give Pathology A Try
03-27-2005, 10:05 PM
I'm a path resident giving a plug for my specialty.
Pathology is a truly great option for med students with sharp intellects and oodles of patience.
First off: the average salary of pathologists in Canada was between $200-250 K. Some provinces average out less, some more. The highest paid group in pathology was General Pathology. Oh yeah, let's point out that pathologists, by and large, DON'T HAVE OVERHEAD.
Secondly: the lifestyle cannot be beat. I did the PGY-1 thing with just about every different discipline, and pathology has got it in the bag. EVERYTHING can go into formalin. EVERYONE can go into the fridge. Nothing has to be done about it at 3 am. **
And this teaching by intimidation thing that surgery has got going? No way, kids. Lousy people skills and crummy personalities? Ha, not on your life. Pathologists are doctor's doctors - you have to have some powers of persuasion to keep the surgeons in line! The only drawback to pathologists is that they tend to be very detail oriented (no surprise there) and because of that they can get very obsessive-compulsive about the little things. If you realize ahead of time that this departmental psychosis exists, it's easy enough to get used to.
You'll find yourself picking nits next.
Residency is very pleasant. Pathologists are among the most pleasant doctors in the hospital and tend to be excellent teachers. If your med school has a path residency program, go visit the residents. See how clear the eye, how rested the faces. Watch the pathologist transform people's lives for good or for ill with a few pieces of glass, light, and a cup of Starbucks at her elbow.
If you're not 100% sure what you want to do with your life, go visit your friendly neighbourhood pathology residents and see how happy residents can be.
** Forensic pathology may require some getting up for scene investigation
04-23-2005, 09:25 PM
I'm doing my undergraduate in Pathobiology and am applying to medical school this year...
Just wondering where you're doing your residency? I know it's way early for me to consider specializing in one thing or the other - but my experience this past year in Pathology labs and the "detective" aspect of examining and determining disease is somewhat interesting to me (which is why I chose this undergraduate program).
Also - do you only deal with dead specimens as a pathologist? Or is there any interaction with living patients?
04-24-2005, 03:57 AM
Platinum 84: What school offers the Pathobiology program? Thanks.
04-24-2005, 11:58 AM
University of Toronto - St George Campus...
It's a wonderful program - some really interesting courses... it's the LMP department... (Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology)
Website: www.lmp.facmed.utoronto.ca (click Undergraduate)
04-25-2005, 02:58 AM
Thank you, Platinum.....1984?
04-25-2005, 03:36 PM
yup... 1984 is when i was born :)
04-26-2005, 05:12 AM
On the Pathology note, have those of you who are interested in Pathology been reading about the latest news on Dr. Smith at the Coroner's Office in Toronto? I read a fairly sizeable article about the case against him in the Globe this past weekend (re: the 25 parental abuse causes of death among infants) and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds and who they'll bring in to make judgement on his autopsy cases.
05-07-2005, 07:40 PM
In respone to the earlier question, I'm doing my residency at the U of Saskatchewan in general pathology (the department website is not up to date in terms of residents yet - there are currently four [plus one due in July]).
People very often think of pathologists as these uncommunicative little hobgoblins hiding in the basement (we're on the second floor, in fact!). The truth is very much the opposite. Pathologists are usually referred to as "the doctor's doctor". Or, in other words, when patients go to their clinician or surgeon to find out what's wrong, the clinician or surgeon turns to the pathologist to find out what's wrong. So pathologists, by and large, have good communication skills (necessary when talking to surgeons - just kidding!)
Are there ANY MDs out there who can afford to be miserable SOB's (excluding TV doctors, of course)?
In terms of patient interaction, most of it is dealing with the deceased, or with little bits and pieces of living patients. However, pathologists do preform some procedures on living patients. For example, hematopathologists traditionally are responsible for obtaining bone marrow biopsies because:
1) if you want it done right do it yourself
2) procedures = additional $$$
Many pathologists preform FNA (fine needle aspirates) on patients - this involves sticking a tiny needle into superficial lumps and bumps with the purpose of trying to discern benign from malignant.
These are the common examples - no doubt other residents could add many others.
Because pathologists work in a department (e.g. their "office" is a tightly knit group practice - often in the hospital), they have a LOT more interaction with their collegues than in most disciplines. In major centres, ~30% of pathology cases are exchanged amongst pathologists for an additional opinion. This is in sharp contrast to some other specialties - again, I pick on surgery - where the surgeons in a group/department may not exchange more than civilities for months on end. The implications of this arrangement are immediately obvious - unlike the surgeon, you have to get along with your collegues and your "office" functions as a democracy rather than autocracy.
As pathologists are very lab-based, we interact with a multitude of technologists - everyone from the guys who keep the computers and microscopes from exploding to the technologists who prepare specimens and make the slides. The ability to successfully get along with and manage people is a handy skill under these circumstances.
And of course, pathologists have some interaction with med students/residents in the form of teaching. Being detail oriented and obsessive-compulsive enough to give anaesthesiologists a run for their money, they typically give excellent lectures and will come prepared.
So, there are a LOT of people around (maybe too many sometimes), but the majority of them will not be patients.
05-08-2005, 07:53 AM
I have to say, that I knew basically what path's do, but really wasn't aware of the full scope of practice and all the subspecialities that are available if you don't want to do general path...
I just did a week of Forensic Pathology and it was fascinating...I saw several very interesting cases most of which were medico-legal so I can't get into details...but this speciality, tends to more gross anatomical findings (but they do their own micro work too!)...very interesting and rewarding when you can answer questions for families...
I don't have a cellular bio background, but for the most that do that enter medicine, path would be an interesting and challenging choice!
05-09-2005, 06:24 AM
Thanks for the help Littlest Zooropa! That was pretty informative...
Let's hope I get in so that I could (eventually) have this on my list of options... I also had a REALLY positive experience with a pathologist who taught a section of a couple of my courses this year - great guy, very knowledgeable and skilled. But of course, don't want to form my opinion on an entire specialty based on a single individual.
Rotations/electives should help out here. Thanks again.
08-15-2005, 10:58 PM
Floating back to the top...
04-16-2006, 06:54 PM
08-13-2006, 06:31 PM
I definitely aggree that Pathologists are excellent teachers- they were by far some of the best professors I had in pre-clerkship and I was always amazed as to how well they could explain just about any question, regardless of specialty.
Cheers to all of you pursuing the field!
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