The Enemies of Pathology
Why medical students and patients are unfamiliar with the laboratory
Andrei-Mihai Borcan | | Opinion
As I read the “Preaching Beyond the Choir” editorial in The Pathologist, it triggered my personal fears about choosing pathology as my future career. As a fourth-year medical student in Europe, I can feel the lack of appreciation from my peers as I express my desire to pursue pathology in the future. People still in training do not seem to perceive this extraordinary field to be as “noble” or “challenging” as the clinical or surgical specialities, and that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people like me, who find pathology not only intellectually challenging, but probably the most diverse field of medicine as a whole.
And there, in our lecture halls and hospital wards, lies the greatest enemy of pathology – peer pressure. It’s an inescapable fact that, even if great and successful pathologists (like my extraordinary pathology teacher, Gabriel Becheanu) teach us about their work and empower us to pursue this field, the ignorance of peers tramples the enthusiasm of many potential pathologists and diverts them from a future that might impact their – and their patients’ – lives in a purely positive way.
With regards to patients and their understanding of pathology and laboratory medicine, leaflets and notes on pathology reports won’t do much, in my humble student opinion. What I think we need to do is adapt. My suggestion? YouTube. Medical education channels run by pathologists that, through well-known topics (such as polyps, Barrett’s esophagus, and common cancers) educate patients on diseases that are familiar to most, yet whose diagnosis unquestioningly relies on the input of the pathologist. Help people understand what you do by improving their overall understanding of medicine. Teach them about your field by explaining to them why you are so important in so many ways. Bring them closer to you by sharing information that for you is elementary, but for them is groundbreaking. Then they will see and respect you as you deserve.
Through initiatives like these, I hope that the future of your field (and hopefully mine as well in a couple of years!) is as extraordinary as the work you put into your diagnoses day in and day out.
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