Overview of the Specialty
Pathology is the specialty dealing with the causes and nature of disease. Along with radiology, it has been described as a “diagnostic” specialty. Pathologists combine clinical training with laboratory expertise to contribute to medical care. While pathology was historically considered a research-oriented specialty, pathology careers today can range from pure clinical work to pure basic investigation.
Although the field encompasses both anatomic and clinical pathology, many pathologists tend to focus on one of these areas: Anatomic pathologists investigate the effect of disease on the human body via microscopic examination of tissue, cells and other specimens, as well as via autopsies; Clinical pathologists work in laboratories supervising testing procedures, and their work is a blend of microbiology, hematology, chemistry, immunology, molecular biology and business management. Pathology is generally a hospital-based specialty.
At a Glance
- 4 years of residency
- Categorical positions available
These are minimum requirements. Some programs may have longer residencies.
|Median, Academic Salary
|Median, Clinical Salary
Source: Association of American Medical Colleges
Combined training in anatomic and clinical pathology (AP/CP) is a four-year categorical program with no requirement for a preliminary year. The majority of pathology residents (approximately 80%) choose a combined AP/CP program. Three-year AP-only and CP-only training is also available in some institutions. There were 142 pathology-anatomic and clinical residency training programs accredited by the ACGME for 2014-15 that offered 605 categorical positions.
For applicants who expect to pursue a career focused on basic investigation, the American Board of Pathology (ABP) recognizes a physician-scientist research pathway to certification. These programs vary between institutions, but generally combine a two-year accelerated AP or CP residency with a guaranteed fellowship and postdoctoral position.
The ABP also recognizes a four-year combined AP/neuropathology pathway.
Matching Program Information and Match Statistics
AP, CP and AP/CP residency training programs participate in the NRMP. Match results through the NRMP and competitiveness information for AP/CP residency training positions are summarized in the U.S. Match Statistics table below.
US Match Statistics
|# Categorical positions available for U.S. Seniors
|% U.S. Seniors Matched*
|# Unfilled Categorical Positions
|# Unmatched U.S. Seniors
Source: NRMP Match results for U.S. seniors applying in a single specialty. *Competitiveness is based upon the percentage of U.S. Seniors who ranked each specialty as their only choice.
WUSM Match Statistics
For a list of WUSM match statistics for the past several years, please visit Search for WUSM Statistics. (password protected)
Nearly all pathology residency graduates will complete one or two fellowships, most of which are one year in duration. The American Board of Pathology recognizes and certifies subspecialty (fellowship) training in pediatric pathology, cytopathology, dermatopathology, forensic pathology, neuropathology, hematopathology, blood banking/transfusion medicine, chemical pathology, molecular genetic pathology, clinical informatics, and medical microbiology.
There are also many unboarded ACGME-accredited and unaccredited subspecialty fellowships in areas of focused anatomic pathology, such as gastrointestinal, genitourinary and pulmonary pathology. These fellowships are not specifically recognized by the ABP, but are very commonly chosen as a first or second fellowship.
Pathology fellowships do not use a matching mechanism and are awarded via program-specific mechanisms, with applications generally submitted 18 months before the desired start date. Detailed information about the scope of these subspecialty training programs, number of positions offered, and length of training is available at the FREIDA website.
FREIDA physician workforce information for each specialty includes statistical information on the number of positions/programs for residency training, resident work hours, resident work environment and compensation, employment status upon completion of program and work environment for those entering practice in each specialty. Useful survey data have been collated by the American Society for Clinical Pathology on their residents’ page.
Washington University Resources
- Washington University Office of Graduate Medical Education (GME): Information about graduate medical education at Washington University
- Department of Pathology & Immunology
- Pathology Elective Recommendations
- Database of WUSM alumni searchable by Specialty, Year, and/or State (password protected)
|Ian Hagemann, MD, PhD