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Residency Planning FAQs - Pathology

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Why do students choose to train in your specialty? What is it they find attractive?

Ability to be a specialist but see case material from all other specialties; opportunities in many different practice situations; performance as the "doctors' doctor".

What are the top 10 training programs nationally in terms of overall reputation?

  • University of Maryland 
  • Washington University/Barnes Hospital
  • University of Iowa  University of California, SF
  • Brigham/Women's Hospital
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Cornell University 
  • University of Michigan
  • Cleveland Clinic 
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Virginia    

What are some good regional programs?

  • University of Maryland
  • Johns Hopkins
  • University of Virginia
  • Medical College of Virginia
  • University of Pennsylvania

What are the strengths of the program here at the University of Maryland?

Small program with personal attention by our outstanding faculty; expertise in all major areas; director knows everyone on the national scene.

What are the factors you look at when evaluating an applicant from most important to least important?

  • Reasons for choosing pathology and understanding of the field
  • Academic record
  • Recommendations
  • Previous experience (electives – post-sophomore year) in pathology
  • Personality/communication skills
  • Research interest/experience

What advice do you have for University of Maryland students interested in your specialty?

Take at least one pathology elective and speak to pathology faculty members.

If students have more questions, whom in your department should they contact and how can they reach them?

Olga B. Ioffe, MD
Associate Professor and Director of Residency Training

Additional Comments

Only a small proportion of American medical graduates are currently entering the field of Pathology (an average of only slightly over one graduate per medical school over the past three years). This is the result of two unrelated factors. The first is that, with recent curriculum revision, fewer and fewer students have the opportunity to see pathologists in their many clinical practice situations, but think of us as basic scientists who perform autopsies.

In actuality, pathologists in the real world interpret biopsies and operative specimens, consult in the operating room, perform and interpret fine needle aspiration biopsies, work up hematologic problems and transfusion reactions, are active members of infectious disease teams, are the directors of education programs and tumor boards at most community hospitals, and do hundreds of other exciting things that medical students never get to see. In fact, there may be more possible pathways to follow in Pathology than in any other clinical field – and pathologists have the option of dealing with them all as generalists (despite being Board-certified specialists) or subspecializing in one or more of them, as most of our faculty here have done.

The second factor which has reduced the entry of students into Pathology in recent years is the well-publicized but brief period (1995-1997) during which there were more trained pathologists searching for positions than good positions available. As is always true with situations of this sort, the laws of supply and demand have now swung the pendulum the other way, and current graduates are receiving multiple offers of excellent positions in both academic and private practice. The new emphasis on molecular diagnosis, with the key role of the pathologist in this field, will create even more opportunities in the future.

Visit the Department of Pathology Website