Stage A

‘ST1 in histopathology was the most interesting, most challenging and most enjoyable year of my medical training so far’

Stage A

The ST1 year is designed to give trainees a highly structured introduction to histopathology. Trainees all start at approximately the same level as there is so little practical experience of histopathology in medical school or foundation years training. Each training school is specifically funded for ST1 training so training is specifically tailored towards getting a good grounding in histopathology.

Training starts in August with a 1-2 week induction from the training school. This includes some time in the lab seeing how specimens are prepared and processed. Trainees are taught how to use a microscope, how to approach simple cases under the microscope and the principles of macroscopic assessment and sampling (AKA ‘cut up’). Many training schools do a separate autopsy induction. Over the course of the year there are at least three teaching weeks. The first is held in Bristol and all the trainees from England attend. This is a great opportunity to get to know everyone else who has recently made the same excellent career choice as you. The Bristol teaching week has run for over 10 years and includes lectures and tutorials on various aspects of histopathology. Two further weeks are held in November and January/February. These are organised regionally; nearby schools are grouped into clusters and trainees travel to one training school for a week of tutorials, lectures and microscope sessions. Some training schools organise a fourth week that covers cervical and non-cervical cytology. The training weeks cover all topics on the ST1/stage A curriculum.

When not at block teaching weeks, trainees are rotating through the various specialities in histopathology. There’s lots to learn and the day-to-day job is very different from life as an FY2 or as a trainee in any other speciality. For this reason most training schools have regular dedicated ST1 teaching sessions. ST1s are closely supervised and there is daily of one-to-one training from consultants and more senior trainees.

To progress from stage A to stage B trainees must complete a number of workplace based assessments, have satisfactory multi-source feedback, have seen enough cases (histopathology, cytology and autopsy) and finally have passed the stage A examination (previously known as the objective structured practical examination or OSPE). This exam has fifteen stations, which are made up of 13 question stations and two rest stations and assesses trainees against the stage A curriculum.