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4th year elective preparation


Full Member
10+ Year Member
Sep 10, 2004
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I was wondering if you could give me some advice regarding 4th year electives in path...how many are necessary for path residency application? What are the general expectations of a medical student before they do the elective? What would you recommend I do this year in preparation so that I can make the best impression? I was thinking that maybe I should review all my histology throughout the year and re-master the subject, as well as master webpath completely before I do any path elective. It is a tall order nonetheless because coming up this year I have surgery, OB, family remaining, then I will start probably an AI, then study for step II, then I will do a couple of path electives.

Also, I have to decide what to do for an AI. I am ultimately interested in hematopathology. I am debating whether to do an AI in adult general internal medicine, or in peds-heme/onc. Any advice would be much appreciated.



... can get you a toe.
10+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2007
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Just my 2 cents, but I think you're on the right track with the heme/onc rotation. Most programs would probably consider that a more useful MS experience than a second path rotation, since you'll never get another chance once you start residency. I got a letter from a heme/onc attending at a well-known cancer center where I did an away rotation, and I think it was helpful. Of course, you need at least one solid letter from a pathologist too.


Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2006
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AI - you can do anything that you want, so do something you might get some enjoyment from. Check with previous students and find out what are some good rotations at your school.

It sounds like you will not be able to do a path elective until the Fall. Most people do 1-3 months of path, but really you only need 1 month. You should try to do a month of surgical pathology and consider doing a month away at a place you might want to go. Most applicants do this early to get a letter of reference or get an idea if they want to do path. They don't expect you to know much at all - maybe some very basic histology. The rotation for a med student is entirely educational. No one will push you to do and learn, but if you are interested in path, you will want to show that you are motivated to learn. I wouldn't worry about studying much beforehand. I did a surg path rotation at my home school and did 2 subspecialty rotations away.


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15+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2003
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Doing one rotation is obviously crucial, because otherwise when they ask you the questions "why pathology," or "What experience do you have in pathology," you are kind of screwed.

I did two path rotations, but partly that was because I didn't want to do more clinical electives, and I did one away month and wanted to do a second at my home program.

But I agree, doing other rotations that you are interested in and are relevant to path (like heme onc, some surgical stuff if you are willing, or derm) are very educational and will help you in your future path career. I still recall stuff I learned in my hemeonc rotation and derm rotation that help me out.
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