Get Experience in Histopathology
Are you considering a career in histopathology but you’re unsure if it is the right choice for you? Don’t worry, most current trainees felt the same way before deciding to apply for specialist training. Histopathology is relatively poorly represented in most medical school courses and there are limited opportunities to experience the speciality at FY1/FY2 level. Fortunately there are many ways to get involved with histopathology before deciding to apply. All of the suggestions below should help you decide if this is the correct career choice for you and will also provide you with plenty of insight into the career at the application and interview stages.
- Do a taster week. This is essential to give you experience of the day-to-day life of a histopathology trainee and consultant. Deaneries will provide study leave for foundation year doctors to do taster weeks. Ideally the week should include some time seeing what happens to pathology specimens in the lab, some experience of cut up and microscopy, and seeing an autopsy. Details of who to contact to arrange a taster week in your region can be found on the training schools page.
- Do a histopathology project. Audit, quality improvement and research are fundamental parts of histopathology practice. Getting involved in a project is easy – talk to pathologists in your hospital’s pathology department or contact the consultant who organises taster weeks. Most departments have lots of projects for keen prospective trainees to get involved with. Are you a medical student? Look out for pathology themed electives, student selected components and intercalated BSc projects.
- Junior doctors – do a pathology-themed post graduate qualification. Molecular pathology promises to revolutionise medicine and change the practice of pathology. Many universities run PGCert/PGDip/MSc programmes in molecular medicine. Some of these are FREE for NHS employees. Shorter introduction courses are available from the Genomics Education Programme of the 100,000 Genomes Project.
- Join PathSoc. The pathological society costs £10 to join (FREE if you are a medical student), gives you access to two journals and discounted conference fees. Their website has lots of good learning materials including a case of the month.
- Go to a pathology conference. The Pathological Society has a conference twice a year. Many medical students present BSc and SSC projects. There is also an undergraduate pathology case report prize up for grabs.
- Get involved in national pathology week. This is an international initiative to raise awareness of the role and importance of all areas of pathology in modern medicine.
- Join your local pathology society. Many medical schools have their own PathSoc. If yours doesn’t why not start one? Histopathologists are generally approachable and enthusiastic, and may be willing to help organise events for medical students to find out more about a great career!
- Look at the RCPath website. There are lots of opportunities for medical students interested in pathology. The pathology Summer School is always popular and there is a yearly essay competition.
- Enter a prize competition. The Association of Clinical Pathologists has a prize for foundation year doctors. The Pathological Society has an annual undergraduate essay competition and a pathology case report prize.