sapience8x

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i'm thinking about going into pathology but at the same time i have always wanted to do medical missions. is there a place for a pathologist on a medical missions team? how could i keep up my clinical skills to do this- or would i need to? is it as simple as keeping up my ACLS certificate. is this required anyway? i dont' want to go into primary care just to do meidcal missions once a year for a month.
 

SoCalRULES!!!!!

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This is how to do it. I assume your path program will be associated with a medical school and not a community hospital.

Whenever the second years have their "practice patients" for anal and gyn exams, you can show up un announced and join in.
 

jeff2005

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I don't know of a way to volunteer as a clinician, but you can volunteer as a pathologist. You would mainly be helping with laboratory training and quality though, which would be less exciting, but still important. I've also heard of dermatopathologists treating skin conditions with the help of their scope.

I had a similiar interest in medical missions, and it was one thing I had to put in the "con" column when choosing pathology. Surgeons, IMHO, are in the best position to quickly and dramatically help people in the developing world with only yearly visits.
 

yaah

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Good luck finding a residency that will let you take a month off every year to do missionary work - although perhaps you're referring to after that.

A lot of path residencies require ACLS certification, mine does. Why do you want to keep up your clinical skills? Personally I couldn't give two bits about whether I can characterize a heart murmur anymore.
 

geddy

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You might also want to consider the impact you will actually have if you become a pathologist and want to have clinical duties on a medical mission. If you're going to be a pathologist who "keeps up" his clinical skills for missions, I'm not sure the patients would be terribly well served - best to leave it to the bushmen or to missionaries with more solid skills.

I agree with the earlier statement that the best way to serve would be to do so as a pathologist - not glamorous, but still important. And this, of course, differs not an iota from the practice of pathology in the developed world. :)
 
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sapience8x

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actualy i wouldn't mind going as a pathologist at all. i just didn't know if there woudl be anything that i could do to help. i was wondeirng what tasks would be available to do but usually missions trips need "hands" so i'm sure if i want to help there would be a spot for me.
 

Thrombus

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if clinical skills are your passion then use them and dont become a pathologist

personally i dont see why you can't look at every hospital as a mission field....i don't know why one has to feel the need to leave the country to be a missionary....the poor and suffering are in our midst....

all doctors help the suffering +/- clinical skills
 

yaah

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sapience8x said:
actualy i wouldn't mind going as a pathologist at all. i just didn't know if there woudl be anything that i could do to help. i was wondeirng what tasks would be available to do but usually missions trips need "hands" so i'm sure if i want to help there would be a spot for me.
Well, you can always to a transitional or prelim year and then apply for path if it's that interesting to you. Or you can apply for an armed forces residency program because they still require (as far as I know) a transitional year, as military docs need that training just in case it is required.
 

geddy

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sapience8x said:
actualy i wouldn't mind going as a pathologist at all. i just didn't know if there woudl be anything that i could do to help. i was wondeirng what tasks would be available to do but usually missions trips need "hands" so i'm sure if i want to help there would be a spot for me.
Will your school let you do an international health elective? We're allowed to spend up to 2 months away as 4th year electives (I know people that went to Kenya, Nepal, and other places). Some students at my school arranged a trip to Eastern Africa during the summer between first and second year to do medical mission work. It might be useful to try it briefly before you get too far along in your career.

As for working as a pathologist on missions, I suspect it's probably group-dependent. I'd try to identify some groups you want to go with, talk to them about what you want to do, and see what's possible. That's what I did, as part of a 4th year elective - it worked out really well for me. Great experience. If you set your mind to it and your school is fairly flexible, anything is possible. As a side benefit, I think it makes you stand out a little on residency applications, too. :)
 

SoCalRULES!!!!!

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Here is a better idea. Why don't you do a practice physical on the bodies before autopsy? :scared: :scared: :scared:

The neuro exam might be tough but you can still try to find see the macula and the "cone of light". Plus you can do the anal exam and/or vaginal exam without the patient feeling embarassed. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
 

PathOne

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Honestly, I think there's limited demand (if not need) for pathologists in the type of missions you're referring to. Obviously, a pathologist can provide important work in any treatment setting, but the fact is that most medical missions are mostly about helping the patients to simply survive - and that's not the strength of pathology (or psychiatrists, for that matter). However, we ARE best at finding out why they died, but again, that's not really high on the agenda in medical missions.

And trust me: Your clinical skills gets really rusty really fast as a pathologist. I haven't seen or heard a live, talking patient since mid-1999. OK, not entirely true, but get my point...

Also, I'm afraid that you WILL find it difficult to get a month off annually, both in residency and as an attending - in any specialty. Sure, the chiefs will probably think your plan is an admirable one. As long as you do it on your own time, not theirs.

By here's what's in demand (from www.doctorswithoutborders.org)

"MSF is particularly seeking emergency medicine physicians, general practitioners, family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, obstetricians/gynecologists, and infectious-disease specialists."

Note that they're apparently not even looking very hard for surgeons, sleeper-docs, ENT's or Rads.
 

deschutes

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The prof I work with for research is on a sabbatical year and just returned from Laos. The university has a project there, and he's going back again in November. It's not MSF, but I imagine things like this go on all the time - you just have to find them.
 

PathOne

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I'm not saying it doesn't happen. Just that path isn't the most obvious speciality for third world medical assistance.
 

deschutes

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And I wasn't saying you were saying it doesn't happen... ;)

We're on the same wavelength. Don't fall off.
 

PathOne

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Oh, don't worry. I'm not falling off just yet...

Waving :)
 

deschutes

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Coming back to the original post.... :)

sapience8x said:
i'm thinking about going into pathology but at the same time i have always wanted to do medical missions. i dont' want to go into primary care just to do meidcal missions once a year for a month.
sapience8x, have you thought about what part of medical missions work appeals to you?

btw SoCalRULES!!!!!, it might surprise you but the physical exam is an integral part of the autopsy.
 

PathOne

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Well, I wouldn't exactly compare a pm phys ex with a phys ex of a walking, talking living patient. True, some surgical procedures can even be trained on a corpse, but it's fairly rarely done.

The one field where pathologists get to travel the world is forensic path. There's just been tons of them helping out with casualty identification on the victims of the Tsunami disaster in SE Asia, and they also frequently help out with identification of torture victims, sometimes on site.

Actually, I think there's been forensic pathologists at almost any major war- or civil war-torn country recently, although they normally go post-conflict (as do most other med assist workers).