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Outside the Lab Training and education, Profession

The Matchmakers

Credit: Swikrity Baskota

“Hey Google, how do you become a pathologist?” Across the globe, medical students scour the depths of the internet – from reputable resources to obscure online chat forums – to find answers to guide their future decisions. As pathology content is watered down in medical school curriculums, medical students seldom learn about the realities of pathology. Instead, they turn to websites, such as StudentDoctorNet for (questionable) advice. The combination of poor academic advice, limited exposure, and inaccurate information online is a constant source of detriment and misguidance among medical students.

In 2019, the co-founders of bonded over their frustrations of navigating to pathology as pathology residents. Each had faced obstacles to get to residency and saw numerous students go through the same hurdles (obtaining US pathology experience, awareness of opportunities and scholarships, mentorship in the field, and so on). The answer to the problem was simple: create a comprehensive resource from pathologists who understand the process. 

Four years later, the vision for this website has amazed the group. Website metrics were presented at ASCP 2023, and demonstrated the breadth of reach to students across the globe. Their instagram account (@matchtopath) has grown to over 800 followers and their X page (@MatchToPath) has accrued 1.6K followers as new content and opportunities are shared, garnering attention and appreciation from students worldwide. 

Website traffic and geography from January 1 to December 31, 2023

4,645 total visits (+146% year/year)

Source of traffic:

  • USA, 75.8%
  • India 3.9%
  • Nepal 2.8%
  • Canada 2.2%
  • Pakistan 1.9%
  • Russia 1.4%
  • Saudi Arabia 1.1%
  • Egypt 0.7%
  • United Kingdom 0.6%
  • Puerto Rico 0.5%
  • Japan 0.5%
  • Germany 0.4%
  • Ecuador 0.4%
  • Mexico 0.4%
  • Bahrain 0.4%
  • Ethiopia 0.3%
  • Peru 0.3%
  • Columbia 0.3%
  • Turkey 0.3%
  • United Arab Emirates 0.3%
  • Spain 0.3%
  • Thailand 0.3%
  • Bulgaria 0.2%

The resources have continued to grow as a helpful aid to students around various questions such as visas, elective opportunities, and success on interviews through a pilot mentorship program. Moreover, their active social media presence has helped reach young medical students worldwide and is seen as a valuable resource for all the pathology application needs. So what’s the catch? There is none. It is free and accessible. No paywalls or memberships needed. For the team, this is mission accomplished!

Here, the founders reveal what the site means to them and those it helps. In Part 2, you can meet the pathology residents who are informing the site’s content from their own recent experiences.

Swikrity Baskota, MatchToPath Founder and Assistant Professor at University of California, Davis in Sacramento, California

Credit: University of California–Davis in Sacramento, California

I am originally from Nepal. When I was applying for pathology residency in 2016, I couldn’t find any resources for advice or any mentors willing to guide me. I struggled on alone and, once in my residency in Pittsburgh, I started a Facebook page to help other pathology applicants. A few years down the line, I met like-minded friends like Kamran, Terri, and Oscar – who all suggested a website and all-inclusive information for pathology residency application in one place. And hence, we founded MatchToPath in November 2021. 

I personally work on most aspects of the website along with my friend Terri. We invite guest writers to submit blogs related to different aspects of pathology residency application. At least two of the founding members edit the blog before publication. We also organize a series of webinars throughout the year. Usually all of our founding members are speakers or contributors at these webinars along with many invited experts. In 2023, we also organized a series of half-day bootcamps geared for #PathMatch24 candidates, where we had up to 100 attendees in a session. 

Our website traffic for 2023 surpassed 4,500 visitors, with unique visitors over 3,000. But the impact is most apparent from the numerous direct messages and personal thank you notes we have received from the end-users.

I am an international medical graduate with prior training in pathology. When I decided to apply to pathology residency in the United States, it wasn’t customary for many colleagues from my country to choose pathology. So I basically relied on my own research of 141 pathology programs, visiting their individual websites through FREIDA and ERAS. Also, finding observership opportunities was exceedingly difficult – I remember sending over 100 emails and ultimately hearing from three of them. It’s through MatchToPath that I want to put resources at every pathology residency applicant's fingertips to make the process much easier.

Terri Jones, MatchToPath Co-founder and Assistant Professor of Gynecological, Breast, and Cytopathology at Magee Womens Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Credit: Magee Womens Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

I became involved with MatchToPath through Swikrity. We were co-residents together (and started our first ever residency rotation together) and have been close friends since! She pitched the idea of a resource where medical students could explore what pathology has to offer and get advice on the residency application from trainees and attendings who have experienced it first-hand; I was inspired. I agreed that the platform would be an online repository for information that was typically spread by word-of mouth and might not be as accessible to applicants from US schools with smaller pathology departments or international applicants.

I present and moderate our webinars, edit blog posts, assist in the design and building of our website, and act in an advisory role. I think it is important to help others along a path you’ve traveled yourself. As a resident and fellow, I was active in educating med students about pathology. My interest in education and outreach continued as I transitioned into becoming an attending. MatchToPath is a wonderful resource for those interested in applying to pathology residency and it is an honor to be a part of the platform. My hope is that it can make the traditionally stressful, challenging – and, at times, frustrating – process of applying and matching a little more manageable. 

Personally, I knew about pathology from an early age – my mom is a breast and gynecological pathologist. It had always fascinated me that shapes and colors under the microscope could be interpreted as cells and tissues and translated into critical patient care decisions. Now we are co-workers at Magee.

Oscar Lopez Nunez, MatchToPath Co-founder and Pediatric Pathologist, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Pathology in the Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Credit: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

I have known Swikrity since residency; we trained in the same program and have always been close friends. One day, she approached me and shared her idea. I had been pondering a project along the same lines for quite some time, so I thought it was a perfect idea, and I became a co-founder.

My involvement has been predominantly focused on an advisory role since the inception of MatchToPath. I was involved in planning, designing, and revamping our current website, as well as curating and peer-reviewing the posted content, particularly regarding blog entries from volunteers and other contributors. I have also helped plan and moderate our online webinars and boot camps and actively contributed to our recent scholarly activity experience as a group.

Pathology is a hidden gem. You would be surprised how little is known about our field, even within the medical community. The same phenomenon occurs at the subspecialty level with pediatric and perinatal pathology. I aim to showcase what we do as pathologists (and pediatric pathologists) and encourage others to find fulfillment and purpose in the art of diagnosing diseases. MatchToPath is a great way to do that because it’s a unique opportunity to engage with a highly motivated group of prospective trainees that are craving guidance and mentorship.

We are bridging the gaps of knowledge that used to exist regarding pathology as a career option and a way of living. But more importantly, we bring kindness, inclusiveness, and selflessness to our field. We do not charge anyone for our content or advice. Most of us reached where we are thanks to the generosity of others – those who guided us and helped us throughout the process without asking for anything in return. MatchToPath is a direct response to this – it is based on the premise of “paying it forward,” which is why our project has been successful and quite contagious. 

I migrated to the US to pursue specialized residency training in internal medicine. Interestingly, I never considered pathology as a career simply because my exposure to the field was minimal and somewhat superficial. However, preparing for the United States Medical Licensing Examination exams changed my perspective completely. Being forced to re-study basic sciences was an eye-opener. After several years of focusing only on clinical practice in my home country, things suddenly made more sense. I realized pathology was the perfect midpoint connecting the basic and clinical sciences, and it was there to answer my questions. It was a humbling experience that helped me revisit its pivotal role in medicine. So, I sought “fully immersive” experiences to ensure this was the right call. This was no easy task, but fortunately (and almost by luck) I found some helpers who provided their kindness and generosity as mentors, advisors, and sponsors. Because of them, I managed to observe and rotate in two different pathology departments for several months to understand what it means to be a pathology resident in the US. At the end of this period, I was convinced this was my right choice and applied exclusively to pathology residency programs. 

Credit: Images used in collage supplied by Royal College of Pathologists

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About the Authors
Meredith Herman

Pathology resident at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Helen Bristow

Combining my dual backgrounds in science and communications to bring you compelling content in your speciality.

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