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Undergrad Shadowing Oppurtunity

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by Fermata, Apr 12, 2004.

  1. Fermata

    Fermata Hold me.
    Physician 10+ Year Member

    Dec 11, 2003
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    Attending Physician
    I know, for instance, that if one was interested in pharmacy then one could become a pharm tech to get exposure of what the profession is like.

    I'm curious if there is a similar type of job one could get where one could shadow a pathologist.

    I'm a microbiology major so I kind of have a natural draw to the profession.
  2. Brian Pavlovitz

    Brian Pavlovitz give me that marrow!
    10+ Year Member

    May 31, 2003
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    Resident [Any Field]
    I would get in touch with a Pathologist at your local hospital (or ask someone in the micro department if they know a pathologist who might be willing to show you around). I used to work as a Micro Tech, and the director of our lab was pretty involved with the pathologists.

    You may also enquire about any help the lab may be needing. Often, you may be able to get a job as an autopsy assistant, or helping out in the gross room. For instance, this summer I went back to our path department and helped out in the gross room dictating and cutting "small" biopsies. I was also able to see a couple of autopsies, cut a frozen section, and sit in with the pathologists at afternoon "multihead" microscope conference. Mind you, I knew everyone there, so it was easier to have a position "available" when I came home for the summer, but it was a wonderful learning experience.

    Most of the docs that I've been in contact with are quite happy to have someone interested in the field, so it doesn't hurt to ask.

    Good Luck!
  3. yaah

    yaah Boring
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Verified Expert 15+ Year Member

    Aug 15, 2003
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    Attending Physician
    I think Brian's experience might be atypical - you would probably be hard pressed to be able to go to your local pathologist and ask for time learning how to gross in small specimens. I would think the best you could hope for would be someone who would let you look at slides with them or perhaps let you help organize their files or something. The better bet, especially for a lot of clinical path people, might be to see if they need help in their lab.

    There are pathology techs, spending time working in labs, computer work mostly. These jobs might be hard to come by and they might be looking for someone who is more likely to do the job for a few years.

    When I did my PSF, the weekend diener (autopsy tech) brought in a high school student with him to help him out with the cases. She was interested in forensic path. I kind of rolled my eyes at this because bringing a 16 year old girl in to help with autopsies (he even let her do some cutting, although not when I was there) seemed a bit questionable. I kind of wondered about that relationship. How does a middle aged single man meet a 16 year old girl who is interested in forensic path? Did she hang around a morgue begging for the chance to get in? Did he troll the local high school asking if anyone wanted to see a dead body? I don't think any local high school guidance counseler would provide "autopsy viewing" as an enrichment activity in high school. What did her parents say when this gruff voice called up and said he needed to speak with her, that they had an autopsy to go to? I guess it's no worse than a lot of interests of modern teenagers. And what kind of 16 year old girls like this kind of thing? When I was 16 I thought dead people were smelly and gross.

    It's true, though, it never hurts to ask. Well, I suppose one should never say never. There are a lot of very rude and inconsiderate people in the world who probably take great joy out of dumping on college students who are interested in their particular career and want to see what it's like. These are usually people who are so insecure about their job that they want to prevent anyone with any talent from joining the field and potentially taking their job away from them. Fortunately, these people, like the middle aged part-time autopsy diener who hangs around with 17 year old wannabe forensic pathologist, are rare indeed.

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