Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why I Didn't Do Pathology

In a lot of ways, I would have been a good match for pathology. I'm a huge nerd, for starters. I'm lazy, so I'm sure I would have enjoyed sitting in one place, looking at slides. Plus you don't have to do an intern year. You don't have to do an intern year! I mean, why isn't everyone a pathologist?

Here's why I didn't do pathology:

1) I am very prone to eyestrain and looking in a microscope was possibly the best way for me to do it. If I were a pathologist, I'd be walking around with a headache 100% of the time.

2) I didn't enjoy my histology OR my general pathology courses. So... yeah. Pathology was taught badly, but histology was just hella boring.

3) I think it would freak me out having to be so detail-oriented. You miss one cell and that could mean your whole career.

4) It seems like pathologists are people who need to know everything about everything, which is a lot of pressure.

Although this wasn't the reason I didn't do pathology, but I've heard the job market in path is dire right now. But the biggest reason is that if I had done path, I'd probably have gone blind from looking at all those slides.

P.S. Still hoping y'all will like me on Facebook...


  1. What about the cool aspect of working to solve crime cases?? Like in that show Body of Proof?? :)

  2. While I'm not in med school yet, I can say I'm fairly certain path will be one of my favourite subjects. Being a huge nerd and having a deep,abiding love of examining everything and anything microscopic, I think it will be where I gravitate.

    Buuuut... It seems like misdiagnoses are so frequently chalked up to "blame the pathologist!" That scares me away from even considering it.

  3. Hi Fizzy!
    I'm a third year path resident who loves your blog. This made me laugh :) (and kind of feel famous lol)
    I am a huge nerd and skipping the intern year was awesome, but I agree that it is a ton of info. Board studying could make you cry. And the job market def ucks. But, on the bright side, my autopsy patients dont talk back! :)

  4. Are you kidding?? Histology is my favorite subject! It's so detailed oriented. It also helps that I'm really good at it. :)

  5. I'm considering path because I love histology! And biochem, which fits nicely with molecular pathology.

  6. Just curious...I'm a medical student and one of the few things I'm really interested in is pathology. I would finish residency in 2018. Would the job market be better by then?

  7. Probably not. Pathologist don't retire, we just die at our scopes. Seriously, it's not hard to keep working part time and do consult work. You also can't really just hang out a sign and practice pathology out of your house. That's why the market sucks. It's kind of a factor of the profession and not just the times.

  8. My reason: got motion sick watching the slides move around on the scope. O_o

  9. Fizzy makes some good points here. Looking through a scope all day can physically affect a lot of folks. Before considering path, make sure you can deal with that aspect. Also, make sure you don't miss patient (not human, but PATIENT) contact. As to the job market in 2018, who the heck knows. If you're an average resident/fellow and are willing to move, you'll probably find something. But if you want to be sure you can get a job no matter where you move, path is not the field for you.

  10. Pathology is what you do when you like to be abused.

    If you like to have your work considered a commodity and paid as such, do pathology.

    If you want to be looked down upon by your peers, your patients, and your payors, do pathology.

    If you want to be a salaried employee with your masters skimming 70% of your pay for the work you do, do pathology.

    If you want your colleagues to be servile miscreants who would kill their own mothers for peer approval, do pathology.

    If you want a rewarding career where you make a big difference in patients lives and have the professional autonomy to do the best for them, do derm.

    1. Amen.
      Pathology is possibly the worst career choice within medicine these days. You will be beholden to a bunch of dumbass moneygrubbing administrators, your so-called peers in medicine will always assume they know as much or more about pathology than you do and some of them will even put you to work for them and take most of what you should be getting paid. I can't stand to look at GI docs, urologists or dermatologists. They all make me sick. At one point I thought pathology was fun and fascinating. That was in residency. Now all I do is kick myself for not doing something else like...well...anything else. If I can convince just one of you not to go into pathology, then I feel I will have done a great service. Run away, flee as far as you can from this specialty which has no where to go but down.