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Dec 11, 2020
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Hello all! Just looking for some career advice and I’m hoping you can help me out. I’m a new grad vet. I’ve always known I didn’t want to be a clinical vet. I love animals and disease but working with distressed clients all day just doesn’t jive with me. Everyone in vet school told me to get some clinical experience first. So I worked at a small animal GP for a bit and then quit.

I have a couple questions. I’m interested in anatomical pathology, do they require much clinical experience to get into a program? Is there any job I can do in the meantime related to pathology (but not clinical work) to boost my resume?
 

battie

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So, pathology is hard to break into. Of the 4 people in my class that applied to residencies, only 1 got a residency. The others had committed their vet school lives into pathology goals, doing research, externships, spending time in our VDL, etc. The biggest difference between the 1 with the residency and those without is her PhD (shes in a dual PhD/DVM program).

@JaynaAli is clin path
@awesomenessity just started an anatomic path residency
@WhtsThFrequency is an anatomic pathologist
 

JaynaAli

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The anatomics may have more advice but in my experience, clinical pathology puts more emphasis in clinical experience than anatomic pathology. Like Bats said, it can be hard to break into pathology without experiences related to it and letters of recommendation from pathologists, so if you’re near a vet school reaching out to pathologists and asking to shadow might be a good idea. There are a few pathology internship programs (Kansas State and maybe Cornell come to mind?) that can help get you those types of experiences in a more formal setting. I know of a clinical pathology resident who did one of those to “pivot” from practice to pathology. Working as a lab tech or histo tech is good experience but honestly probably not for someone already with a DVM.
 
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AP puts less emphasis on clinical work than CP (although I started my residency almost 10 years ago so the landscape may have changed). Research is generally thought highly of since so many AP programs (not all anymore, but still many) are combined residency/PhD programs.

Pathology is general is a small field and knowing the right people also helps. If you didn’t get pathology experience in vet school via externships, summers, jobs, electives etc it can be hard to break into because they want to make sure you know what you’re getting into. Our match rates (we don’t go through the formal match, but based on number of positions vs applicants) are very competitive. Where are you located? Feel free to shoot me a PM and I can see if I know any contacts in the area that at least you could shadow for rounds or something of the sort. Also check out the ACVP website for potential internship or similar opportunities.
 
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awesomenessity

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When I applied I heard a LOT that they prefer people with clinical experience... but both of my resident mates and myself got into our program right out vet school. But we all prioritized our vet school experiences and extracurriculars towards pathology, and we're in Canada so it's a much smaller application pool to draw from.

As the others mentioned, I would definitely try and get some significant shadowing experience, especially necropsy floor work if you can. Dealing with dead animals day in and day out can take a toll on you and it's good to know what to expect... I know of a pathologist who couldn't handle it anymore just a few years of getting their board certification and went back to clinical work, and I know of a resident who swapped from anatomic to clinical pathology for similar reasons. Also, make sure you're reasonably able to use a microscope for an hour+ at a time without wanting to stab your eyes out lol. Path can definitely be a good "no clients" option, but it does have its own challenges!
 
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