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A day in the life of a pathology resident

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by raining4days, Aug 7, 2003.

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  1. raining4days

    raining4days current status: zzzzzzzz 7+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    I don't need to know what time you wake up or sleep, or how many breaks you get, or how many times you go to the bathroom. I just want to know what things you get to do. Do you get stuck in the lab the whole day? Is it absolutely zero patient contact? Do you examine dead people? Do you look into a microscope the whole day? Do you examine, say blood samples, and figure out what's wrong? What kinds of things do you do?

    I realize that this post sounds a little dumb and ignorant to you. :confused: If any pathology residents out there can give me some input on what your day is like, I will appreciate it very much.
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  3. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza 10+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I support this thread. I'd like to hear this too.
  4. atropinedoc

    atropinedoc Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2003
    I too support this thread, and would like to hear from path residents.:)
  5. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2001
    I support this thread too......hehe
  6. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2001
    Ohhh you want answers.

    Well the day all depends on what service I am covering. The different services of pathology can be so different there is not one answer to your question. The answer is "yes" to all the things you said but not all on the same service.

    Surgical Path:
    I get there at 6:30 or 7 depending on how many slides I still need to preview. From 8 till 9 everyday we have lecture. At 9 I sit with the attending and sign out the cases that I previewed yesterday afternoon and this morning. (this can last anywhere from 15 mins to 4 hours, generally an hour or two). Next I get the paperwork together from the cases I just signed out and get them submitted to transcription. Ok on to the gross room I try to get in there by 11am if possible and start grossing in the specimens for the day. Somewhere around noon to 2pm I take lunch for anywhere from 15mins to an hour depending on how busy I am for the day. Back to the gross room usually till about 4pm. From 4pm till when ever I am done I preview the slides for the next day sign-out. I am usually done by 630 or 7pm and I go home and start over the next day. Throughout the day things like phone calls from surgeons and frozen sections come in that I may handle. Very busy all day long.

    Blood Bank:
    In at 8am for lecture. Spend the rest of the day working up and writing consults for transfusion reactions, antibody workups and apheresis patients. I see patients everyday, some I know very well because they are in transfusion medicine everyday or every month. I sign out the consults I have written at around 3 or 4pm and depending on which attending is on I have an hour teaching session. I am usually leaving at 5 or 5:30pm. This is a very busy service at my hospital.

    In at 8am for lecture. Handle any lab questions that may or may not occur throughout the day. Self-study or sit at a lab bench an observe for most of the day. Loooonnnngggg lunch. Meet with the chemistry attending and talk about a chemistry subject for an hour. Go home at 5pm.

    But, these are all examples of how the day of a resident goes. The more important question is how does the day go of a practicioner beyond residency. And, the best way to find that out is by shadowing someone in the type of practice you are interested in doing. Pathology is very diverse with jobs that are almost 100% research to forensics to private practice.

    If patient interaction in the primary care roll is what you are looking for the path is not for you. If seeing some patients in the consulting roll is, then that is fine.
  7. YellowRose

    YellowRose Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2000
    hi, quick question for you greatpumpkin,

    as a practicing pathologist, is it still possible for you to "moonlight" or work in a community clinic, ER, or urgent care center doing mainly primary care? I'm interested in pathology, but would also like to spend a few hours a month working with patients to maintain my clinical skills. is it possible?
  8. Mindy

    Mindy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001

    I work a similiar day on surg path as GP, however my hours tend to be much longer.

    At MGH, everything is broken down by sub-specialty, and we switch each week. For example this week I am on GI large. So I get into work about 7 to 7:30 am, and sign-out at 8:00pm. Before noonish, I try to look at the infamous MGH "outs" slides (basically our daily case-based teaching session.) After outs, 2 to 3 o'clock, I start grossing. This can be a fairly quick experience:"Yeah, I only have one small melanoma re-excision waiting for me!", or a long experience: "hot &^%$, I have a whipple, an esophagectomy, an ulcerative colitis colon, 3 bullet splayed colons, a rectum, a pancreatic cyst, 2 spleens, and oh yeah another whipple." Luckily our pathology assistants do our small (i.e. appendix /gallbladder / biospy) specimens. Slides come out fairly late, between 4 and 5 o'clock. It doesn't matter because I am usually grossing. I look at slides each evening. Technically, we are required to go home by 10 pm.

    Interestingly, USWNR ranked MGH 4th this year. I cannot believe you see better pathology anywhere but a third world country where things are end-stage before patients present. I highly recommend this program to *motivated* individuals. It is a heck of a lot of work, but the pathology is intense!

    I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

  9. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2001
    It is possible, but finding a job may be an issue. If you were to do a traditional internship first it would be easier.

    One of the pathologists here actually works in a small internal medicine clinic once a week. Seeing an underserved area of the city. He does it for free, just because he wants to see more patients and he is kind of retired so he is not really worried about money anymore.
  10. Ludy

    Ludy Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 29, 2001

    How late are you really there? You say you're technically required to leave at 10... meaning you're often there past 10? :eek: I remember in a previous post you said you had to preview 240 skin slides in one night. I'm currently doing a dermpath rotation, and it takes the resident and I a good 2-3 hours to preview 80-90 slides (typical for a given day here). How could you possibly preview 240 in a single evening -- assuming that you don't recognize everything you see and need to turn to the textbook on occasion? (I'm sure at time like these you're especially glad you did the PSF and have at least a little extra path background.) I guess they say you learn by doing, but do you have enough time to read too?

    I can't even imagine how long it takes to sign out 240 slides the next morning... With that heavy of a workload, do the attendings take the time to teach during signout? I know on the days that we have 120-130 to sign out, the amount of teaching drops dramatically.
  11. Doctor B.

    Doctor B. Slappin' That Glass 7+ Year Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    On The Flipside
    My experiences are generally the same as those of the great pumpkin and mindy. Time comittment varies greatly with rotation. We do surg path at 5 different hospitals at various times so the scheduling varies greatly. The latest we are there is usually 6 or 6:30. At some of the hospitals, we spend the mornings signing out and the afternoons grossing. At another one, we spend one week signing out biopsies and doing frozens, the next week doing large specimens and grossing, then back to biopsies/frozens, etc. On autopsy and forensics we do posts in the morning and then sign out slides and work on paper work in the afternoons. Clinical path rotations are lighter and similar to those mentioned above.

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