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Outside the Lab Profession

Byte the Bias

Today, I wanted to talk about stereotypes; specifically, the ones that have long plagued the pathology field. Back in 2014, our third cover feature addressed how negative perceptions impacted the discipline – and outlined potential ways to overcome them. “Pathologists are nerds.” “Pathologists don’t like people.” “Pathologists spend all their time with corpses.” “Pathologists aren’t real doctors.” In 2011, a study revealed that only 1–3 percent of medical students selected pathology for their residency (1). But why? The main reason turned out to be that – according to the students – pathology was “utterly invisible” in clinical practice. In fact, the participating students did not consider then reject pathology, but rather that pathology was “completely ignored.” More than 10 years on, have things changed? Have pathologists finally been recognized as the pioneers of disease diagnosis and collaborative medical team players?

Perhaps not. During my weekly scroll on X, I was intrigued to stumble upon an image of how artificial intelligence “sees” a pathologist (2). The AI-generated images invariably showed a pathologist hunched over a microscope, surrounded by all manner of pathology paraphernalia in a dark and isolated room. Not another person in sight. And a study published in 2021 revealed that – despite education efforts – public knowledge on the role of a pathologist has not improved (3).

Many pathologists are actively trying to raise awareness for the discipline. Jerad M. Gardner is a prolific bone/soft tissue pathologist and dermatopathologist and a prime example of how physicians can embrace social media. Casem Ballouk and Kimberley Fiock are also pioneers in the social space, and we recently spoke to them about their content creation process, the dangers of misinformation, and their top tips on growing a medical-based platform. 

I’m intrigued to hear your own thoughts on this ongoing discussion. Are stereotypes still hindering the field and detering young medical professionals? Do we need to place more emphasis on patient management? Have you been exposed to such assumptions? If you have something to share, please shoot an email to [email protected].

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  1. T Hung et al., Hum Pathol, 42, 802 (2011). PMID: 21292295.
  2. X (2023). Available from:
  3. Gabor Fischer et al., J Clin Pathol, 74, 812 (2021). PMID: 33097589.
About the Author
Georgia Hulme

Associate Editor for the Pathologist

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