Histopathology is a specialty that provides variation and offers opportunities to get involved with other professional interests beyond the day to day job such as, management, leadership, research and teaching. You can stay as a general histopathologist or sub specialise focusing on one or two body systems. You may also wish to specialise in neuropathology, forensic pathology, cytopathology or paediatric pathology. Histopathology is a career full of variation, opportunity and can offer a reasonable amount of flexible working.
In the North West (Manchester) deanery all specialist trainee year ones (ST1s) are based at Manchester Royal Infirmary which is located next to the University of Manchester and the famous curry mile (a great location to easily enjoy the delights of Manchester). The histopathology department is split into sub-specialties and you rotate through the different specialties throughout the year. The day to day work includes; cut-up (small and large specimens), cases to report and post mortem examinations. The ST1 team are well experienced and organised to ensure you have the necessary training opportunities to be able to meet the required competencies to progress through your first year of training. As a trainee you generally work standard office hours (9-5) however your schedule remains reasonably flexible. Parts of the job are time committed; multi-disciplinary team (MDTs) meetings, cut ups etc, and on some days you may be in earlier for certain MDTs but the flexible nature of the job permits you to manage your timetable accordingly.
The first year of training adheres to a curriculum which is delivered via an in house teaching schedule (approximately twice a week) and also via three block teaching weeks. The first block teaching week involves all the histopathology specialty trainees in England and Wales, the other two weeks are in your regional teaching groups. These teaching weeks are a great way of learning some of the pathology required to successfully negotiate ST1 and mixing with other trainee histopathologists. These weeks are covered by expenses which allows you to mix and socialise as much as or little as you want. The northern block (Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield) made the most of these opportunities last year having two very enjoyable weeks in Manchester and Newcastle. Each trainee group took it on themselves to unofficially host the other trainees and arranged evening entertainment including visits to the Christmas markets, ten pin bowling, crazy golf, course dinners, escape rooms and occasional visits to public houses.
Following ST1 you get sent out to the district generals and beyond. In the North West (Manchester) deanery this may be as far north as Lancaster, as far south as Stockport, as far west as Blackpool and as far East as Oldham. It is a geographically large region and unless you have the benefit of a caravan, barge, tent or other mobile living arrangements you will have to commute. The deanery does provide funding for travel costs and/or accommodation costs should you wish to stay closer to your place of work whilst on rotation. Being a small specialty there is the facility for compromise with the training programme director doing the best to ensure placements are distributed evenly and fairly based on training needs of the whole deanery.
Histopathology gives you a varied, flexible, challenging and rewarding career. The training will provide you with ample opportunity to get through your ARCP and allows time in your schedule to pursue other professional interests. If you’ve endured reading this far I would advise you to contact your local department for a taster you have nothing to lose.
-Alan Farnworth (Speciality Registrar, North West Deanery)