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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education

Pathology: The Foundation of Medicine

“Medical students: Pathology is not ‘supplementary’ to your medical education – it is the foundation of your medical education!

Pathology is the language of medicine, and I don’t mean that philosophically. All medical knowledge stems from when we were all generalists and everyone performed ‘pathological’ examinations. The physical exams you learn? Those are gross examinations! You need to understand what you are looking for when you examine a patient (this takes time, it’s okay).

All of us in medicine communicate through this medium – when you tell someone there is a ‘firm, mobile, lateral neck mass’ you are already telling them the differential. Can you be a doctor without a basic understanding of pathology? Probably. But it will be easier for you and those around you if you know some of it.

Regardless of what specialty you go into, you will learn pathology – either when it is presented to you plainly early on or later, on the fly when you are making clinical decisions. I know there is a lot going on in early medical education and those weird pink and purple images they throw at you don’t seem helpful or relevant, but everything you learn later on will be easier for it. Build that foundation early on and the rest of the knowledge will stack nicely.”

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About the Author

Karleen Meiklejohn

Resident in the Department of Pathology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

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