Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Want to be a pathologist?

One of the aims of MMC is to push doctors into career decisions earlier and earlier and better careers advice is supposed to be available to ‘help’ doctors decide that they either accept a job in a speciality they don’t like or they’re out of work. All specialties require different characteristics in their practitioners, so if you think you might be suited to histopathology – or want to prove that you’re not – I’ve compiled a list of useful qualities for histopathology:

Two hands. There is no such thing as a one-handed pathologist. After giving your most likely diagnosis, practise saying, “on the other hand…”

Obsessiveness. Do you check you’ve locked the door. Twice? Obsessive checking of slide details and block numbering is vital.

Interest in pictures. If you only read books with lots of pictures and preferably very little text then pathology is for you.

Pattern recognition. Can you pick out the exact wallpaper from hundreds of similar designs? If you can then you’re an ideal candidate for pathology.

Strong stomach. You will need to be able to eat your lunch with hands that smell of formalin or worse, with a photo of that anal carcinoma you dissected 3 days ago in front of you on the desk.

Eccentricity. You won’t get ahead in pathology without it.

Black humour. Essential for anybody who has to open other people’s bowels.

Will of iron. For standing up to the surgeons.

Strong arms. Pathology books are very big and heavy

So if you’re an odd wallpaper obsessive with two hands and lots of picture books, this is the job for you.


At 00:19, Blogger Shinga said...

I lost a bet with myself that somehow you would work in other classics:

Does the idea of culture automatically make you think of petri dishes? Do you engage in a death struggle with dust mites to deprive them of interesting skin shreds from people with psoriasis? Do you sniff a newborn for cradle cap rather than to get that baby smell?

Congratulations. You are our ideal job candidate. You obviously have no social skills that would distract you from working many hours every day and never asking for holidays.

I know various computer science departments that phrase this more diplomatically but this is effectively their job description.

Regards - Shinga

At 19:37, Blogger DundeeMedStudent said...

oh dear I seem to tick all the boxes.

At 20:59, Blogger Dr Nick said...

Hi, I'm a medical SHO but am keeping my options open.

Also, it would be great if you could give us an idea of the "typical" day of a pathologist. Afterall, most junior docs know what goes on in a ward round, but not behind the doors of the pathology department which remains an information black hole.


At 16:35, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tick all the boxes, too, but am, sadly, past it at 44...

At 20:01, Blogger Dr K said...

I knew there must be some would-be pathologists out there! Don't worry Dr Nick, I'm working on an insight into what histopathologists do all day....coming soon to a blog near you.


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