10+ Year Member
Feb 27, 2005
The one with the Wings
Attending Physician
Forgive a stoopid question from a noobie. I did a quick search of the forum and the answer didn't jump out at me. But, for those of you going into path, how were you able to make sure you liked it, given the learning curve and the amount of time you have for electives? I have some friends (regular MD students) who took a year off for a path externship, and they said that they picked it up after a brief learning curve. But, we do not have a lot of elective time, especially before we start planning our applications.

I'm 95% sure I want to do IM, but path is probably my distant second and I don't feel like I've explored it fully. We do have a clinical connections portion to our curriculum, and I spent a semester on the autopsy service (but this was only 6 or 7 days in the autopsy suite). But, even if I had time for an elective block, it doesn't seem like enough time to get a real feel for surg path, etc. (I guess the same is true for other specialties that might not be core requirements - radonc, etc).

But since so many here are interested in path, I was just curious how you all confirmed that it was for you.


10+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2004
In a van down by the river.
This was a point of major discussion in the following thread. I would rewrite my answer here but I'm thinking and anxious about the Match and my answers are in that thread as well.

You will find quite a few stories here. A lot of people have had many different experiences that led up to their final decision to pursue pathology.


Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 21, 2004
counting a bone marrow somewhere near you
Resident [Any Field]
Hi dante,

I can certainly appreciate your situation about it being so hard to figure out what we want to do with our limited elective and rotation time before submitting our residency applications!

I'm a little bit different than you in that I was never really interested in doing IM. Funny that you mentioned radonc though - that was what I thought I was going to do through most of grad school. I did some "clinical connections" in that, learned about different programs, etc. But I was never excited about it. I thought about all these other specialties and could never get excited about it. I was seriously considering just going straight into a postdoc and never doing a residency since I loved being in the lab, being at the bench, etc. Then I started thinking about path and read lots about what the training is like and it just sounded like exactly what I was looking for - it sounds to me like applying lab techniques in a clinical environment. I even feel like I will learn some techniques during my residency that I do not know how right now that will be applicable to me in the basic science lab later on in my career. I genuinely get excited when I read about residency curriculums and all the stuff I will be learning (and I certainly never felt that way about radonc, anesthesiology, all the other stuff I was considering - I was just thinking about residency with dread).

Anyway, that's kind of my story. There are folks in our program that make fun of me because I am so gung-ho sure I want to go into path even though I have never done it. :laugh: I am taking time to do two path electives (surg path and blood bank) so hopefully that will help me figure out if want to go in the anatomic path or the clinical path direction (or both).

Hope this helps somewhat.