General Questions: 1) What is pathology and why should I care? Well, pathology is, per many a learned mind, the "study of disease." Path is one of the branches of medicine that serves to make diagnoses and aid in making correct diagnoses. There are two branches, AP (Anatomic Pathology) and CP (Clinical Pathology). The vast majority of residents training in the US do so in a combined residency (detailed below). AP includes surgical pathology, which involves using frozen sections (instant microscopic preparations of tissues) to make diagnoses on OR cases to aid in diagnosis or management (like whether a margin of resection is positive for cancer, or whether a mass is actually cancer or something else). Surg path also involves, obviously, making diagnoses on tissue on traditionally processed tissues (i.e. the next day). Pathologists use the clinical history, gross examination of the specimen, microscopic tests, and occasionally ancillary tests like immunohistochemistry in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. AP also includes Cytology, using preparations of free cells to arrive at a diagnosis (like a Pap Smear or a needle aspiration of a mass). Residents are trained in performing Fine Needle Aspirations. It also includes Autopsy and forensic pathology. CP includes many lab-based disciplines like clinical chemistry, microbiology, blood banking, coagulation, hematology, immunology, and others. Residents learn how labs are run, how tests are performed, quality control is maintained, etc. Almost every test other doctors order in hospitals goes through pathology who are responsible for the integrity of the results. Should I do a residency in AP/CP combined or just do one of them if I am interested in only one? Most residents do combined residency because theoretically (and practically, at least currently) this allows you to have a wider range of expertise when looking for jobs. Pathologists who can not only interpret cytology smears and frozen sections but also can cover blood bank call or ensure quality control in a chem lab are more marketable. This may change, in part, with the increasing specialization of medicine. Generally, people who do straight AP or CP do so with a strong idea of a career in academic medicine (research or combined research and service). The combined residency is 4 years. A straight AP or CP is only 3. There is also an AP/NP (neuropath) track. You can generally do neuropath as a fellowship after a standard residency, but many people know they want to do this early, and some programs will offer this option. Pathology DOES NOT require a prelim year in medicine, surgery, or transitional year. You go right to path. Advantage: Pathology. What is the job market really like? http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=66690 http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=85197 http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=95197 http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=68583 Probably some repeat info here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=115370 How much $$$ do pathologists get paid? Wrong question! Sigh…http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=86495 How do I know if path is the right field for me? Try it out! http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=81071 http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=82529 (likes and dislikes of other specialties) Great thread here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=116856 What are fellowships and how do you get them? Fellowships are similar to any other field. A fellowship is undertaken after the completion of a standard residency and serves as extended training in a specific field. The most common fellowships are general surgical pathology and cytopathology, although fellowships are available in almost anything from specialized areas of surg path (like renal path or GI path) to research-heavy fellowships and CP fellowships. Dermatopath fellowships have the added bonus of getting to compete with dermatologists for spots, because most programs accept both. Some highly specialized fellowships are only available at limited numbers of places. And many programs do not offer fellowships. Generally, residents apply early in their final year of residency (at the very latest) but more commonly during their second to last year, before the regular residency interviews start. In general, fellowships will make you a better pathologist and more competitive for jobs.