International Pathology Day was established by the Royal College of Pathologists in 2014 to raise awareness and celebrate the contribution and importance of Pathology and laboratory medicine services in addressing global health challenges around the world.
The word ‘Pathology’ means the study of disease, acting as a junction between medicine and science, using advanced technology to study cells and genetics for better diagnosis, screening and treatment. Pathology reports provide over 70% of all the diagnoses which doctors use as the basis of their clinical decisions, whilst making up only 2% of global spending on healthcare.
Pathology has three distinct specialties – chemical pathology (also known as clinical biochemistry), histopathology and medical microbiology and virology.
Chemical pathology and histopathology encompass several subspecialties and medical microbiology and virology provide the opportunity to dual train in infectious diseases. Each subspecialty offers different combinations of laboratory and clinical research and all of them will offer you the chance to conduct research. Pathology also possesses several other smaller disciplines, such as genetics, immunology and toxicology.
You should note that patient contact is limited in pathology, but doctors from all other specialties heavily rely on pathology to assist in diagnosis, often, to allow them to make life-saving decisions.
Being a doctor, it is my personal mission to make my patients the priority. However, sometimes our mission gets lost as we can forget that there is a patient behind the slides and samples we regularly examine.
I was interested in the pathogenesis of diseases. Pathology is all about understanding why diseases occur and what is happening at microscopic level. It is indeed a whole new world under the microscope, and the more I studied it, the more it attracted me. It is also a very satisfying speciality, when you are looking under the microscope and you find the reason for the patient’s symptoms, or perhaps you can shed light on whether a patient’s tumour is benign or malignant, it is a particularly satisfying and gratifying feeling.
My humble advice would be to only pursue this specialty if you have a genuine interest in Pathology. It is a wonderful, but expansive field and people sometimes find it hard to cope if they are not ready for it or they did not realise the amount of work involved.
I would like to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS. Whilst here in India, we do receive a wide variety of cases, we are, unfortunately, lacking the infrastructure that is available in the UK. We also do not have detailed countrywide guidelines as provided by the Royal College of Pathologists in the UK. Previously, I had the opportunity to experience the NHS on a number of occasions, and I really appreciate the friendly working environment.
Currently, I am studying for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists. I have passed Part 1 and I am currently an Associate Member of the RCPath. I appeared for the Part 2 examination in the Autumn session this year and I am awaiting the results. I also need enough work experience, adequate documentation of my training and work experience to process my GMC Registration. So, I am not quite there yet, but I am hoping for the best!
Typically, my day usually starts with a seminar or a teaching session with our junior doctors. That is then followed by lab work, which includes separate labs such as cytology, histopathology, haematology and chemical pathology.
In India, we do not routinely subspecialise, however, there are options to pursue certain fellowships or courses in a few sub-specialties if one wants.
Attention to detail
Vital participation in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease
Enhanced responsibility because of the serious implications from any mistakes
Little contact with patients
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Rcpath.org. (2018). International Pathology Day. [online] Available at: https://www.rcpath.org/international/projects/international-pathology-day-.html [Accessed 13 Nov. 2018].
Bma.org.uk. (2018). BMA - Pathology. [online] Available at: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/career/studying-medicine/insiders-guide-to-medical-specialties/nhs-career-choices/pathology [Accessed 13 Nov. 2018]