Critical Values is the go-to resource for the entire laboratory team, providing insight and information on the latest research, information, and issues within pathology and laboratory medicine. The print and online magazine invites submissions on topics including, but not limited to, advocacy, education, technology, global health, workforce, workplace best practices, and leadership.
E. Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM
Chief Executive Officer
Molly Strzelecki Editor
Susan Montgomery Contributing Editor
Martin Tyminski Creative Director
Jennifer Brinson Art Direction and Design
For Cody Carter, MD, assistant professor, Department of Pathology & Human Anatomy at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, while pathology is often maligned as a specialty that attracts introverts, he is regularly surprised at the joy he finds working closely with colleagues and the positive impact it’s had on his life. He finds himself immersed in opportunities to share interesting cases with colleagues, participate on committees that shape medical school curriculum and policy, or teach and mentor medical students. “My days are continually brightened by the dedicated colleagues and students with whom i get to work alongside,” he says.
Team Critical Values asked Dr. Carter to share more about his experience as a pathologist, and his road to success, in this edition of “3 Questions With.” Read on to find out more.
My recollection of what drew me into pathology is certainly bittersweet at this point. My pathology course director in medical school, Jeff Cao, MD, was an amazing and approachable instructor that really breathed life into the field for me. It was his creative instruction and dedication to teaching that led me to a post-sophomore fellowship in pathology, where I was able to develop real skills in grossing and diagnostic reporting with which few medical students are privileged. He inspired and fostered my own love of teaching, and after finishing residency and fellowships, I returned to Loma Linda University to transition into Dr. Cao’s pathology teaching role, under his mentorship. Unfortunately, he just very recently passed away, after a monumental career of teaching medical students for more than 40 years, likely teaching more than 6,000 students. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to absorb his passion and expertise in teaching pathology.
Honestly, I hope that my biggest impact is to attract more and more of the brightest medical students that I encounter into the field of pathology, so that they can push the field even further than I could alone. I am hopeful that I have started down this journey, as the number of medical students at my institution (Loma Linda University) going into the field of pathology has progressively increased since I started to, and now nearing double digits over the last couple of years. I attribute that spike in interest to a couple of things. One is that my colleague (Laura Denham, MD) and I teach most of the histology and pathology sessions at our medical school and are both big “cheerleaders” for the field whenever we get time with the students. And the other is that we actually live life with them a bit; I frequently go on mountain bike and road bike rides with a bunch of the students, as well as hang with them at the local rock climbing gym. It has been so great to see so much interest in a medical field which has felt like a “hidden gem” up to this point in my career.
Jump in! It can be hard to gain real experience in the laboratory because daily practice differs so much from the rest of the medical field. When observing specimen grossing, frozen sections, or diagnostics, observe with the attention you would if you were next up to perform that procedure. Then, ask to perform it with careful oversight and constructive feedback. You will encounter three discoveries: 1. Your resident, attending, or instructor will be super impressed with your engagement and enthusiasm. 2. You’ll have a better understanding of how much you enjoy and derive satisfaction from performing the task and making the diagnosis, and 3. You’ll gain crucial real-life experience and preparation for residency or future training if you pursue it.