New Offerings from ASCP Provide Many Opportunities for Trainees

By Alexander Feldman - November 16, 2022


By now, we’ve all gotten a few months of the new academic year behind us. PGY1s and fellows are starting to settle in, and more senior residents are getting used to new rotations and expanded responsibilities. This presents a great time to recap some of the exciting events the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) has coming up, as well as ways that you can get more involved.

2018 Annual Meeting
As always, the ASCP Annual Meeting (October 3-5, 2018, in Baltimore, MD) will have many trainee-focused sessions, including the Michele D. Raible Lecture for Residents, this year featuring Dr. Peter Humphrey (“Prostate Cancer 2018 Update: WHO Classification and Risk Stratification”), and the Cindy Johns lecture, this year featuring Dr. Blair Holladay (“The Path of the Believer: Matching Your Passion with Your Purpose”). The resident review series will consist of five sessions covering 10 topics with nearly eight hours of high-yield material for board preparation. We’ll also bring back our roundtable discussions with pathologists fresh out of training and in their first years of practice. Finally, the always-fun Mixology reception will offer all of us a chance to let our hair down.

2020 Vision and Just Say Know!
In April 2017, the resident advisory committee of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) and the Resident Council of ASCP met in Palm Springs, CA, for a daylong meeting of education and collaboration. Our focus was to discuss what pathologists in training need and want, what resources are currently available to us, and where current resources are lacking. We called this our “2020 Vision.” Many recurring themes cropped up from participants, and one of particular note was the need for more education in the “hidden” curriculum of pathology. This included more knowledge about the basics of laboratory business and payment, policy and regulatory changes, and leadership in the lab.

As a direct result of these talks, ASCP and USCAP are launching a new collaborative meeting called “Just Say Know! From Mentoring to High Performance.” To be held in Palm Springs December 7-8, 2018, the meeting will focus on leadership, management, and business education for pathology trainees. Talks will cover topics such as quality, patient safety, business development, billing, coding, contracts, and healthcare policy, just to name a few. Scholarships totaling $45,000 have been awarded to 30 trainees to attend this function. Though the application for this deadline has already passed, similar meeting offerings are certain to recur on a regular basis, and I would highly encourage those interested in learning more about these “hidden” curriculum topics to apply in the future.

Leadership Institute
With the many developments in our field over the past years, the need for leadership has never been greater. When we as trainees, attendings, pathology assistants, and lab professionals come together for common goals, we in pathology and lab medicine are certain to not only provide optimal patient care but advance our field as well. To this end, ASCP has developed a thorough and rigorous online program to strengthen leadership skills. Through 10 self-paced modules, you will gain introspection into your style of leadership and your role in team dynamics, and learn effective ways of interacting with others of similar or different leadership styles, learning styles, and personality types. Though we often get lab management training in residency (many of us through ASCP’s Lab Management University), true leadership training is often lacking. Again, since it is one of the “hidden” curriculum topics, a paucity of knowledge and education in this area seems to represent a disproportionate number of headaches for new-in-practice physicians.

Pathology Ambassadors
With preclinical curriculum changes, many students have less and less interaction with pathologists, and are leaving medical school with limited exposure to the field, certainly not enough to consider pathology as a career. In the 2017 Match, a little more than 200 of 600 pathology residency positions were filled by US allopathic fourth-year medical students, representing a concerning drop from years prior.

To help bolster the influx of new pathology trainees, ASCP has created Pathology Ambassadors. Through this organization, we want to deputize pathologists (including those in training) to go to medical schools and promote our profession by forming interest groups, providing mentorship, giving talks, facilitating shadowing and rotation opportunities, attending residency fairs, and generating overall excitement for our field. This is particularly important for the many medical schools that do not have an associated pathology residency (and, therefore, often no pathology interest group). Through Pathology Ambassadors, we hope that all medical students will be able to adequately and accurately consider whether or not pathology is the right specialty for them.

The Trainee Global Health Fellowship
The ASCP Center for Global Health and the Partners for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa are focused on implementing sustainable laboratory practice solutions around the world. As such, ASCP offers travel scholarships for US-based pathology residents and fellows to work at one of our initiative sites, allowing trainees to expand their exposure to pathology in low- to middle-income countries. Dr. Jennifer Kasten, our immediate-past resident council chair, was our inaugural fellow and recently wrote about her exciting experiences creating an anatomic pathology quality management system in Uganda. Grants are available for up to six trainees per year ($2,500 each) to visit a site for a minimum four-week rotation.

In addition to the offerings mentioned above, don’t forget that ASCP offers travel grants to attend the Annual Meeting, pathology interest group grants, and subspecialty grants to those looking to explore training away from their home institutions. Information on all of the above options and more can be found on the ASCP website. So what are you waiting for? Expand your training and take advantage of these opportunities today!

Alexander Feldman

Pediatric Pathology Fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio