Pride in Pathology: Vice or Virtue?
Exploring pathology’s secret survival skill
Michael Schubert | | Opinion
In July, the Digital Communications Fellowship in Pathology hosted its introductory session – a simple meet-and-greet for this year’s fellows and a chance to explore the educational offerings of the coming weeks. Each introduction was very different, from pathologist’s assistants in the United States to residents in Singapore. But a single feeling that shone through each introduction was pride – pride in the discipline of pathology and laboratory medicine; pride in the opportunity to share that discipline with others; pride in the laboratory’s role in patient care.
Pride is an interesting word; though sometimes viewed as a negative (the first of the seven deadly sins!), it describes a joy and fulfillment with which many pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals will be familiar. After all, what’s not to be proud of in a field that saves lives, heals the sick, and underpins all other disciplines in medicine?
Our recent community discussion on Twitter struck a similar note when we asked about people’s misconceptions of pathology. More than one person emphasized the overall lack of awareness of the medical laboratory – even among other healthcare professionals. Some suggested that “the field needs more exposure at the high school STEM level.” Others focused on post-secondary education – stating, “we need to involve med students… in routine reporting sessions.” Still others noted that patients and family members are unaware of the lab’s role in care and suggest reaching out to the general public. One pathologist recounted, “I was introduced to a colleague’s small children as a guy who does autopsies. Nothing else.”
Despite the challenges, what again shone through to me was pride. Despite an obvious lack of understanding of pathology, nobody wanted to give up. Nobody wanted to return to their “dark cave.” Quite the opposite; everyone was eager to find new ways to share the laboratory with others, encourage patient and physician involvement, and grow pathology’s profile. It’s that love of the work that makes pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals unique. It’s also what makes this such a special discipline – one that will survive and even thrive.