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ViergeEnnuyeuse

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I'm an MS1 and I recently finished my histology class. I'm just wondering if you guys enjoyed your histology class back in med school. In retrospect, I really did not enjoy mine. I'm not exactly sure what was worse: memorizing tissue layers for organs or practicals involving PowerPoints displaying circled images on slides. It makes me sick just thinking about it. This situation frustrates me because pathology was high on my list of potential careers. I took a clinical laboratory class and I've done lots of shadowing of residents, physicians, and techs in a pathology department. I really thought pathology would be something that appealed to me, but now I'm not so sure. Microbiology and virology still interest me but having to identify tissues and glands bores me. What do you all think? Should I wait and see how my pathology course goes (which I won't take until I'm an MS2) or should I scratch pathology off my list of career choices?
 

EtOHWithdrawal

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Two things...

Personally, I wouldn't rule anything out in first year... Things have a habit of changing. And really you don't have to choose yet.

Second, I think enjoyment comes from understanding. Ask any physicist or hard-core science type, and I think most didn't realize they liked their science of choice until it started to make sense a bit. I feel your pain though. Histo is hard. Probably will be for some time (in my case).

EtOH
 

pathstudent

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I'm an MS1 and I recently finished my histology class. I'm just wondering if you guys enjoyed your histology class back in med school. In retrospect, I really did not enjoy mine. I'm not exactly sure what was worse: memorizing tissue layers for organs or practicals involving PowerPoints displaying circled images on slides. It makes me sick just thinking about it. This situation frustrates me because pathology was high on my list of potential careers. I took a clinical laboratory class and I've done lots of shadowing of residents, physicians, and techs in a pathology department. I really thought pathology would be something that appealed to me, but now I'm not so sure. Microbiology and virology still interest me but having to identify tissues and glands bores me. What do you all think? Should I wait and see how my pathology course goes (which I won't take until I'm an MS2) or should I scratch pathology off my list of career choices?

If you didn't love histology and anatomy you probably aren't cut out for AP.

There is still hope for you in a cp career. If you love immunology, biochem, molecular biology, or microbiology, than there is definitely hope for you in CP.

You could consider a CP only residency.
 

yaah

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I disagree a bit with the above - you have a bit more time, you don't have to decide now. You may find that with more exposure you like it more. It might simply be the way the material is presented to you, and when you get to second year pathology it might be more appealing. A lot of histology as it is taught in med schools is more about memorization than other types of learning.

The point is, it's early. Keep your mind open. If you are really interested in pathology go talk to a pathologist and talk about things, look at some slides, etc. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
 

pathstudent

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^Perhaps you are right.

But I think to be a good pathologist, you got to have the innate nerd inside that loves looking at histology and learning layers of skin, bowel, and brain etc ... (i.e. microscopic anatomy).
 

YoungFP

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Short answer - no. Did not like histo. Love AP and CP. You just sorta pick up the histo as you go along.
Good luck!
 

sohsie

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If you didn't love histology and anatomy you probably aren't cut out for AP.

There is still hope for you in a cp career. If you love immunology, biochem, molecular biology, or microbiology, than there is definitely hope for you in CP.

You could consider a CP only residency.

I HATED anatomy and was not fond of histology. I am extremely happy that I am a pathologist.

Gross anatomy class has absolutely nothing to do with AP.

Times I needed to know the insertions, origins, and actions of the various muscle I learned in anatomy : zero
Times I needed to know the identification of spinal nerves and what they innervate: zero
Times I needed to know where the complex path of each of the cranial nerves: zero
Times I needed to name the branches of some artery: zero
Times I needed to know the name of some obscure vein: zero
Times I needed to know the names of the bones in the wrist: zero
Times I neede to know where the obturator nerve or some other such nerve goes and what it innervates: zero

Number of USMLE Step one questions that involved the above: maybe 1 or two
Number of USMLE Step two questions that involved the above: zero
Number of USMLE Step three questions that involved the above: zero
Number of RISE questions that involved the above: zero
Number of AP/CP board questions that involved the above: zero

Do not get discouraged because you hated anatomy. It has nothing to do with pathology.
 

Aubrey

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To the OP: You mentioned that you spent some significant amount of time shadowing techs/residents/attendings in path, and that you liked what you saw! That experience will tell you LOTS (note the bold caps, please) more than any of your preclinical coursework can about what pathology is really like.

To anyone else who might be reading this, thinking about path as a career: please DON'T (again with the bold caps) assume that if you don't like your pathology/anatomy/histo course, you won't enjoy pathology as a career. Go seek out your friendly neighborhood path residents and hang out with them.. get that info firsthand.
 

jux

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The difference with anatomy and histology is that everything you learn in histology is integral to surgical pathology. I don't think anyone can make the same list of useless things from histology class. I am coming up empty but I'm a few years removed.

You can dislike your histo class and still like pathology, but if you dislike histology as a subject matter, I think you won't be that happy as a surgical pathologist. I don't know the exact percentage obviously, but a significant portion of the slides I look at involve evaluating normal tissue and making distinctions between different benign entities. Even on big cases, margins and lymph nodes outnumber slides with cancer on them.

Histology is less important but still relevant in forensic pathology and can be completely ignored in some of the CP fields (but probably not on the CP board exam). I think it's a good idea to learn about CP only programs if you haven't already. Also it's probably best like you and others have said to suspend judgement on surg path until your pathology course or after you do an elective in it.
 

Napoleon1801

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I'm an MS1 and I recently finished my histology class. I'm just wondering if you guys enjoyed your histology class back in med school. In retrospect, I really did not enjoy mine. I'm not exactly sure what was worse: memorizing tissue layers for organs or practicals involving PowerPoints displaying circled images on slides. It makes me sick just thinking about it. This situation frustrates me because pathology was high on my list of potential careers. I took a clinical laboratory class and I've done lots of shadowing of residents, physicians, and techs in a pathology department. I really thought pathology would be something that appealed to me, but now I'm not so sure. Microbiology and virology still interest me but having to identify tissues and glands bores me. What do you all think? Should I wait and see how my pathology course goes (which I won't take until I'm an MS2) or should I scratch pathology off my list of career choices?

If its any consolation, I was not charmed with my Med school histo class either, simply b/c there wasn't really time to enjoy it for what it is. For most of the people in my class it was an annoyance and a cramfest whenever test time rolled up. It played a much more subdued role in our grading compared to other classes as well. A crash course in histo just does not due the -ology justice.

On the other hand, I really loved my histo class back in undergrad. We had some really good lectures and two 2hr sessions per week of slide viewing time with a histo ID guide as well as an excellent online library of identified images. You really got a feel for the tissues and their interactions. It just seemed to make phys and anatomy make so much more sense for me. :luck:
 

deschutes

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As others have said, there's no rush. It's good that you're thinking about it, but I would not put too much weight on an MS1 class. You still have all of MS2 pathology to go as well as lots of opportunities to observe physicians in pathology (as well as other fields) before you have to start zeroing in on specific individuals re: getting letters of recommendation for the Match.

Should I wait and see how my pathology course goes (which I won't take until I'm an MS2) or should I scratch pathology off my list of career choices?
 

Psychopathology

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Sohsie's assessment of first year anatomy is spot-on.

With regards to histology: this knowledge is much more relevant to what you'll actually do in anatomic pathology. But here are a buncha things to consider when deciding if path is personally a good fit.


Don't get hung up on an experience you had in a particular histology class. A crumby professor, a disorganized textbook, or a killer exam may contribute to your feelings towards the subject. However, you may find histology more palatable in a more practical context... i.e. at the scope or at a pathology conference.

Histology is a demanding subject. It takes a while to learn. Some schools drill it into their students and others gloss over it. No matter what, nobody seeing histology for the first time leaves a semester-long course as some sort of a guru.

See how you feel about pathology class. Pathology wasn't even on my radar when I began medical school. When I took anatomy and histology, I had no intention of pursuing a career in path. Then when I began our second year integrative course that was heavy-handed in pathology, I started appreciating all of the histology and basic science they'd been trying to teach us. The pieces came together.

If all else fails, there is more to pathology than anatomic pathology. There are pathologists who head microbiology labs, for instance. If you're pursuing an academic career, you can carve out a niche for yourself in clinical pathology.
 

DarksideAllstar

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I agree with the majority of people-- your like or dislike of anatomy or histology will have little to do with your enjoyment of pathology. Personally, I found my med school histology course very very painful-- the teachers were subpar and the course was kind of a second thought for most of us trying to cram biochem and anatomy. Also, there was absolutely no context. A lot of times the instructor would say, "Just memorize that x has no serosa. You just need to know how many layers of smooth muscle there are in y." They tried to incorporate the physiologic function of the various cell types, but it didn't really help. It truly was painful. OTOH, I did enjoy anatomy, and for a brief period of my med school career thought that I was cut out to be a surgeon, but then I realized that I enjoyed looking at malignancies more than the patients we cut them out of (no offense or disrespect to patients intended). Give yourself time and see what you like-- you've got a long way to go.
 

erythrocyte

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Gross anatomy class has absolutely nothing to do with AP.

Times I needed to know the insertions, origins, and actions of the various muscle I learned in anatomy : zero
Times I needed to know the identification of spinal nerves and what they innervate: zero
Times I needed to know where the complex path of each of the cranial nerves: zero
Times I needed to name the branches of some artery: zero
Times I needed to know the name of some obscure vein: zero
Times I needed to know the names of the bones in the wrist: zero
Times I neede to know where the obturator nerve or some other such nerve goes and what it innervates: zero

Number of USMLE Step one questions that involved the above: maybe 1 or two
Number of USMLE Step two questions that involved the above: zero
Number of USMLE Step three questions that involved the above: zero
Number of RISE questions that involved the above: zero
Number of AP/CP board questions that involved the above: zero

Do not get discouraged because you hated anatomy. It has nothing to do with pathology.

I found the above comment very useful. I'm an applicant to pathology for 2008, with strong leanings to CP. Since I didn't particularly like gross anatomy, I've had some concerns about AP. Regarding histology, it was neither my hated nor my favorite basic science course, but somewhere in the middle. As I recall, I did alright in it, though not as well as I did in biochemistry and physiology. My concern about histology is that I've forgotten much of it, and that this could make AP very difficult. I would accept a CP-only position if one is offered to me, but I've found that most CP-only programs happen to be at the most competitive places and I'm no more than an average applicant on the whole. For this reason I'm open to doing AP/CP.
 

sohsie

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I found the above comment very useful. I'm an applicant to pathology for 2008, with strong leanings to CP. Since I didn't particularly like gross anatomy, I've had some concerns about AP. Regarding histology, it was neither my hated nor my favorite basic science course, but somewhere in the middle. As I recall, I did alright in it, though not as well as I did in biochemistry and physiology. My concern about histology is that I've forgotten much of it, and that this could make AP very difficult. I would accept a CP-only position if one is offered to me, but I've found that most CP-only programs happen to be at the most competitive places and I'm no more than an average applicant on the whole. For this reason I'm open to doing AP/CP.

If you are applying for pathology for 2008, haven't you done any pathology electives yet? This would be a much better indicator for you whether you have a knack and/or like AP or not. You must already be interviewing, so you must have told programs whether you are applying AP/CP or CP only.

Is it possible that you meant that you are applying for 2009 or 2010?
 

erythrocyte

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If you are applying for pathology for 2008, haven't you done any pathology electives yet? This would be a much better indicator for you whether you have a knack and/or like AP or not. You must already be interviewing, so you must have told programs whether you are applying AP/CP or CP only.

Is it possible that you meant that you are applying for 2009 or 2010?

It's too late for me to do electives. I'm several years post MD. I took the long way to discover pathology. I have been invited, but not yet had the interviews.
 

sohsie

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It's too late for me to do electives. I'm several years post MD. I took the long way to discover pathology. I have been invited, but not yet had the interviews.

Im not trying to be mean here, but if you havent done any pathology electives, and you even had the idea to base your appreciation of/aptitude in AP on your first year basic science courses, then you should seriously consider waiting until next year for two reasons:
1) You really don't know what you are getting into. This isnt a decision to make lightly.
2) Programs will know 1) and not look at all favorably at your application.

To be quite honest, if I were a PD, I wouldn't offer you an interview. If you asked why not, I would tell you to find a way to do some externships, get some letters of rec from the pathologists that you work with, then try again next year.
 

erythrocyte

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Im not trying to be mean here, but if you havent done any pathology electives, and you even had the idea to base your appreciation of/aptitude in AP on your first year basic science courses, then you should seriously consider waiting until next year for two reasons:
1) You really don't know what you are getting into. This isnt a decision to make lightly.
2) Programs will know 1) and not look at all favorably at your application.

To be quite honest, if I were a PD, I wouldn't offer you an interview. If you asked why not, I would tell you to find a way to do some externships, get some letters of rec from the pathologists that you work with, then try again next year.

My, my, Sohsie. You have learned a great deal about me, based on a mere two sentences that I wrote in a forum --to the point of knowing who wrote my letters. Either you are a poor sorceress, or too quick to judge. Fortunately, the programs have access to my full personal statement, which BTW has nothing to do with histology, nor even much to do with AP.

And here I was paying you a compliment for your earlier post. Good thing you are not a PD.
 

sohsie

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My, my, Sohsie. You have learned a great deal about me, based on a mere two sentences that I wrote in a forum --to the point of knowing who wrote my letters. Either you are a poor sorceress, or too quick to judge. Fortunately, the programs have access to my full personal statement, which BTW has nothing to do with histology, nor even much to do with AP.

And here I was paying you a compliment for your earlier post. Good thing you are not a PD.

As I said before, Im not trying to be mean or demeaning. Im just trying to tell it to you straight. And I did appreciate the compliment to my earlier post. Thats why Im trying to be honest with you.

I cant comment at all about your suitability as a CP candidate, but anyone with an MD is potentially suitable for CP.

However, you did state that you were looking to apply AP/CP because you felt it would give you more options. A program director's first concern will be whether or not you are cut out for AP. Hospital with AP training programs depend on the residents to gross and make sure the cases and slides are shepherded in an organized fashion to the attendings for signout in a timely fashion. It is a lot of work, long hours, and burns a lot of people out. It is not 9-5. Believe it or not, there are AP programs who run afoul of the ACGME work rules such as the 80 hours work week. I have seen first hand people who couldnt cut it and/or drop out and the strain it puts on everyone else, residents, attendings, and patient care. Its OK to apply for AP/CP with an eye for a CP career, but you better show that you know what you are getting into and you need to prove that you aren't going to drop out or"do the minimum" to get by.

CP, in contrast, can run itself in most (not all) places. If a resident is lost, it isnt that much of a burden on the CP side. A program director isnt going to care as much if someone doesnt show much interest in CP.

The fact is that you did state your concern about AP based on your experience in first year anatomy and histology, and this is very concerning:
Since I didn't particularly like gross anatomy, I've had some concerns about AP. Regarding histology, it was neither my hated nor my favorite basic science course, but somewhere in the middle. As I recall, I did alright in it, though not as well as I did in biochemistry and physiology. My concern about histology is that I've forgotten much of it, and that this could make AP very difficult.
At this point, you should have enough AP experience to make those concerns distant memories.

I had asked if you did any AP electives, and you said no. You didnt say "No, but Ive done an externship" or "No, but I spent X number of months at a lab grossing and/or at signout." I dont know who wrote your letters. You may have letters from Rosai, Weiss, and Odze. However, if you dont have AP experience, then you don't have a letter from a pathologist who can say that they have observed you involved directly in AP and you will stick it out.

I have interviewed many applicants for my program and the two most important items I look at in the CV are their AP elective experience and the letters from pathologists who worked with them during their AP electives.

Imagine if a residency applicant was concerned that they wouldnt be cut out for surgery because they didnt like their first year anatomy course. Wouldn't someone ask "Didnt you do surgical rotations and electives?" Would you expect an applicant for general surgery to be taken seriously if they hadnt done any extra surgery clerkships. Imagine if they hadnt done any at all?!?
 

erythrocyte

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Sohsie,

If what you're writing is true for all AP/CP programs, then surely the PDs will come to similar conclusions regarding my potential to perform adequately in the required AP rotations. And they will disabuse me, at the interview or by a click of the mouse to send a form-letter rejection, of the notion that I ought to enter their program. I am assuming, of course, that a program would not offer an interview without reading an applicant's personal statement. My says, very clearly, that I'm interested in CP, that I am interested particularly in microbiology and clinical chemistry, and would do a fellowship in one of those areas. On the ERAS, when the option was given, I checked off "CP-only". But the option is not always available. Any AP/CP program that wants to talk with me anyway is not going to rank me if they have your concerns.
 
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