Academic Subspecialty Pathologist-Integrative Researcher (ASPIRe) Program
The Pathology Service at Massachusetts General Hospital considers training pathologists for academic careers based on expertise in diagnostic pathology and laboratory medicine to be among its highest priorities. To support residents and fellows committed to such a career, the Pathology Training Program offers an Academic Subspecialty Pathologist Integrative Researcher (ASPIRe) program.
Our goal is to establish physicians on a career track to becoming specialized academic diagnostic pathologists and laboratory medicine physicians. This approach combines the subspecialty organization of the residency experience with the fellowship opportunities within the department, hospital, medical school, and the greater Boston medical community. In short, the ASPIRe Program aims to train the next generation of leaders in diagnostic pathology and laboratory medicine.
Core and Post-Core Residency Training
The Academic Subspecialty Pathologist Integrative Researcher Program combines core residency training in anatomic pathology (AP) and/or clinical pathology (CP) with a focused two-year training sequence that integrates the flexible year of residency with a year of fellowship in specialties of diagnostic pathology or laboratory medicine, all under the aegis of a proactive career-mentoring program. Trainees on this track complete their core AP and/or CP residency training and then focus both their post-core residency training (elective rotations) and their fellowship training in their area of academic interest.
Post-core residency rotations are structured to optimize academic aspects of training through development of specialty diagnostic or laboratory expertise and research skills; these rotations are integrated with clinical fellowship training at Mass General and/or other Harvard teaching hospitals. At all stages, participants in the ASP-IRe program are mentored both for progression in clinical expertise and for career development as laboratory-based academic physicians; thus, the program is closely tailored to individual trainee's needs and interests.
Residents in the ASPIRe Program meet within the first few months of their residency with a faculty mentor assigned by the Residency Training Committee. The mentor is chosen on the basis of congruence with the trainee's clinical and academic interests. The trainee and mentor meet throughout the training program to develop a coherent plan for clinical training and career development, which includes defining an area of academic focus, finding an appropriate fellowship,, and establishing connections and collaborations with academic physicians whose interests and expertise overlap with those of the trainee.
ASPIRe Program Tracks for Fellowship
There are numerous possible combinations of specialty clinical expertise and relevant academic focus, so flexibility is paramount in responding to the individual trainee's interests and goals. The essential organization of the ASPIRe track is conditioned by the nature of the fellowship component:
If the fellowship component of the training program is board-eligible (i.e. “ACGME” fellowship), there is the possibility of integrating the post-core residency training year with the fellowship over a combined two-year period; alternatively, the post-core residency year can follow the year of formal fellowship training, building on skills acquired during fellowship. This flexible timing of fellowship and post-core residency components will be arranged to optimize development of both specialty expertise and academic career development.
If the fellowship component of the training program is non-board-eligible (which includes most subspecialties of surgical pathology), the formal fellowship training year must follow the post-core residency year, but the clinical and academic contents of these two consecutive years will still be integrated to the full extent permitted by both the accreditation requirements of the residency year and the credentialing requirements of the fellowship year.