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TheMightyAngus

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I'm an MS1 and would like to learn more about what pathologists actually do. I'd like to conduct some path research this summer to learn more about the field (slacking for 2.5 months won't pay my rent). But I'm not sure what sort of research project I should have in mind. Anyone have any suggestions?
 

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Some things that I would do in your case.
1. Decide if you really want to spend your summer doing research. Would you rather just do an observership? No, it won't pay anything, but you might get the exposure that you are looking for.

2. If research, then check with your home institution and look for summer programs (HHMI, CHLA Peds Onc, MD Anderson, Roswell Park, etc). There are opportunities to do research with pathologists in most of these programs. Most of these will pay an ok stipend--I got something like $225/wk from CHLA. Some app deadlines have already come and gone I'm sure.

3. After #2, then you have to figure out who you could possibly work with.

4. Base your decision on with whom and what to work on by what interests you. Don't do molecular bio/genetics research for a summer if you hate it or have no basic lab skillz. You'll get a lot more done if you enjoy what you are doing. Find out the possibility of publishing before you agree to anything. While it doesn't hurt to have done the work, you want at least a poster presentation out of your work and of course something in a peer-reviewed journal would be ideal. Contrary to what others may say, you can do a significant amount of work in 8-10 weeks. I had a great PI who essentially had most of the project planned, so I mainly worked out some of the bugs in the assays, did the experiments, collected the data and was able to get a 2nd author paper and a poster at the AACR.

Overall, path research may not give you the bext idea of what pathologists may do on a day to day basis. I would vote for you to set up some type of observership since it seems like that might be the main reason for doing the research (other than financial). Then again, it wouldn't pay the bills either.
 

Neddy

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As someone who did several basic science summer lab stints, I'd second the notion that it is a waste of time unless you have a very well-defined and brief project going in. Expect everything to take three times as long as it sounds like it should. And don't expect to "see what pathologists do" if you are working in a research lab.

Of course if you have a specific opportunity to get in tight with a prominant faculty member who really wants to get a project done, that is a different story, but if you are serious about research, consider taking an extra year.
 
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yaah

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Yeah, you know, projects are all well and good but no one should ever do them just to do them. I think med students (and residents) fall into that trap a lot. While getting publications and research and all that on your CV is a good thing, the better thing is to find out what you actually want to. Sometimes research is a way to do this, sometimes not.
 

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I would agree that the research will most certianly be less than useful (in a research and CV sense). But it will help to get you known to pathology and help you to get a better understanding of pathology.

I did a 1st summer research project with a Heme-Onc Doc, and while my bench-top work did not radically alter the face of Ovarian or breast cancer therapy, I did get an awesome letter out of the guy and hung around that lab for the next 3 years.

If you had a pathologist teach and classes or give an lectures approach them. If your school has lists of people looking for MS1 researchers look for a pathologist. Otherwise, I would say you need to talk to the secretaries in the department.

As far as what a pathologist does?
I think the stickied faqs have links, or this random googled page
http://www.thedoctorsdoctor.com/pathologists/who_is_the_pathologist.htm
 

DarksideAllstar

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...and help you to get a better understanding of pathology.

I respectfully disagree with this. Unless you are sitting in on sign out or grossing during your "down time", you may actually never find out what a "pathologist does". Particularly if you are doing basic science work, you may be sheltered from the clinical aspects of path and depending on with whom you work, they may have no clinical responsibilities whatsoever.
 

Circumflex

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I agree that doing basic science research is not the best way to see what pathologists do. I would only do this if you really want to get a taste of basic research.

If I were you, I would try to work with someone doing some clinical work. Try to meet with some pathology faculty (maybe someone with an administrative role like program director) - express your interest in pathology and ask if they know what faculty members are doing some interesting clinical research that you might enjoy working with. You may even try and ask some residents - go to the secretary and ask where they hang out and tell them what you are looking for.

I worked a Summer with a guy who worked some at the Coroner's Office and would take tissue samples for his research. So, I would go with him, see autopsies, help process the specimens, help with data management, etc. I wasn't doing ground-breaking research, but he also encouraged me to go to sign-outs and other departmental functions, so it was a good way to spend a Summer. Plus, I got my name on a publication.
 

djmd

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I respectfully disagree with this. Unless you are sitting in on sign out or grossing during your "down time", you may actually never find out what a "pathologist does". Particularly if you are doing basic science work, you may be sheltered from the clinical aspects of path and depending on with whom you work, they may have no clinical responsibilities whatsoever.

Oh I ment not from BSR, but time spent in the path department. Plus if one told a pathologist that they were interested in do pathology research and in being a pathologist, I would hope they would show/tell you about pathology.
 

TheMightyAngus

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Thanks for all the advice. I met with a department head who is a clinical pathologist. He's gonna get me started on a couple of projects looking at assays that he wants to finish up. He'll also put me in contact with AP and that I'd have ample opportunities to see grossing and sign out.

The path people seem to be way more friendly and helpful than almost every other dept I've encountered so far. Looking forward to it.
 

mcfaddens

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Ive got a research topic for you> Find out if the angle of the dangle is inversely proportional to the heat of the meat. :laugh: :laugh: Im so funny!!!
 

DarksideAllstar

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Oh I ment not from BSR, but time spent in the path department. Plus if one told a pathologist that they were interested in do pathology research and in being a pathologist, I would hope they would show/tell you about pathology.

Gotcha.
 
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