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About the Clerkship

Clinical Clerkship in Anatomic Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PA501.3)

Note: This is a Medical Student Elective Rotation in Pathology

This course is designed for the student who is seeking an introduction to both the practice and the academic aspects of pathology and laboratory medicine and is directed toward understanding pathophysiology and molecular pathology.

The clerkship involves a coordinated combination of short rotations, to provide exposure to several subspecialty areas within the pathology department. The cumulative effect will be a representative introduction to elements of surgical pathology, molecular pathology, cytopathology, informatics, laboratory medicine (including transfusion medicine, microbiology, hematology, immunology, and/or clinical chemistry) and translational research. Students will work closely with faculty and trainees and will participate in tutorial sessions in their areas of rotation as well as attending department-wide academic conferences.

All students will have the opportunity to focus on a specific topic of pathophysiological and molecular pathological interest, and to present an aspect of this topic at the close of their clerkship. Consideration of career options in academic pathology is integral to the clerkship. While the course is primarily organized to provide preparation for a potential career in pathology, students interested in other areas of medicine will be able to gain insights into disease processes and the role of pathologists in medical and surgical diagnosis and management.

Evaluative Criteria

High Honors: Demonstrates exceptional grasp of the learning objectives, in comparison to his/her peers; contributes meaningfully to academic discourse during the rotation; leaves a memorable (and favorable) impression on the faculty.

Honors: Meets and often exceeds goals and objectives; performs better than most of his/her peers; demonstrates reliability and enthusiasm; interacts well with colleagues.

Satisfactory: Meets all learning objectives; demonstrates knowledge acquisition over the course of the rotation.

Unsatisfactory: Demonstrates lack of effort and initiative; is unreliable; fails to meet some or all learning objectives.

Curriculum Goals and Objectives

At the end of the four-week pathology experience, the medical student should understand:

  • The process of tissue analysis in surgical pathology, from examination of the gross specimen through slide preparation, examination and interpretation
  • The advantages and limitations of exfoliative and aspiration cytology
  • The current and future role of molecular diagnostics in tumor pathology and medical microbiology
  • The scope of testing offered by clinical laboratories
  • The principles, strengths and limitations of representative test methods in several areas of laboratory medicine
  • The pre-analytic variables that may affect laboratory test results
  • The benefits and limitations of point-of-care testing
  • The role of informatics in improving healthcare delivery and reducing error
  • How to prepare and deliver a brief, focused presentation using content that is appropriate for the intended audience
  • The way in which clinical experts with prepared minds can translate benchtop scientific discoveries into bedside clinical advances
  • The varied and interesting career opportunities within the field of pathology

How to Apply

Applicants potentially interested in the clinical clerkship (medical student elective rotation) in pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General) should contact John A. Branda, MD at jbranda@partners.org or 617-726-1270 in the Mass General Pathology Department. While actual registration is primarily through the HMS Registrar's office, prior contact with the Mass General Pathology Department is advised to ensure the clerkship experience, if available, would be appropriate for the applicant.