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Wondering what to expect when shadowing a pathologist...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by SouthernGent, May 15, 2014.

  1. SouthernGent

    SouthernGent 2+ Year Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    In a practice room
    I have been given the opportunity to shadow a forensic pathologist for a couple of days at the end of the month. I have some general ideas on what to expect, but not much after that. Any advice on what all to expect and what to do from those of you who have shadowed forensic pathologists or other pathologists before would be greatly appreciated.
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  3. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios 7+ Year Member

    Jul 18, 2008
    Dead bodies and khakis?
  4. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun! Administrator Physician 5+ Year Member

    May 15, 2011
    microscopes. i predict you'll be looking in a lot of microscopes.
  5. alamo4

    alamo4 Dudeist 2+ Year Member

    A forensic autopsy can be really nasty because the body may have been sitting for a while. Like really nasty. It's really the only kind of pathology which is like that. There may be autopsy techs that do a lot of it though, depends on the place.

    Otherwise it's likely to be looking at microscope slides (probably with the residents if it's at a med school on one of those multi scopes) and watching him fill out paperwork. Forensics guys and ladies have to do all sorts of extra legal stuff, but you probably won't get to see him deposed or have to testify. Depositions suck because the other attorney is trying to totally discredit you, so they can be complete jerks and question your whole competence as a human being. At a jury trial everyone is much more civil, because a jury doesn't like an ahole either.

    Let us know how it goes though, I've only worked a tiny bit with forensic path, so have a tiny sample/view.
  6. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    Bring a small tubs of Vicks Vaporub. You'll thank me later.
    LizzyM likes this.
  7. JoBreeze

    JoBreeze 2+ Year Member

    Sep 10, 2012
    Just be prepared for the sight and smell of contents of the GI tract. Autopsy is otherwise fascinating.
    shllleedee likes this.
  8. hoihaie

    hoihaie Banned Banned

    Mar 6, 2014
    have fun staring at histology slides
  9. shllleedee

    shllleedee 2+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2013
    DO NOT bring any Vicks Vaporub... The smell may help for a few minutes, but Vicks will help open up your nasal passages and the autopsy suite will smell far worse once the menthol scent fades.

    As @alamo4 said, you'll likely get to observe a few forensic autopsies during your week there. I hope it you are shadowing in a region that is still fairly cool or you may get to see a few decomps... Aside from the more disgusting aspects of forensic pathology, you'll likely get to sit in on morning conference, which outlines the circumstances of the day's cases, as well as afternoon conference, where preliminary findings are reviewed with the attendings (assuming this office participates in residency and/or fellowship programs). You'll also likely get to observe the physicians as they examine their histology slides and dictate their cases at the end of the day. Some offices also have various other conferences, including neuropathology and cardiopathology conferences that focus on extended examination of said organs that have been fixed in formalin for ~2 weeks.

    It's an exciting, yet smelly, specialty to observe, but the disgusting parts are very manageable. Have fun shadowing!
  10. Starry

    Starry Wish on a different star 2+ Year Member

    May 24, 2013
    I also recommend asking the pathologist to let you spend some time in the gross room where the assistants/techs? receive and dissect the gross specimens. Then follow the specimen as it is frozen, sliced, then finally looked at under the microscope. The histology is kinda boring without much background but if you can see the specimen from where it is cut, it makes everything so much more comprehensible. It's super cool!
  11. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo 5+ Year Member

    May 4, 2011
    Strange people?

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