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Outside the Lab Forensics, Training and education

Tiny Patients, Huge Difference

At a Glance

  • Pediatric pathologists are overworked and in clear demand, but few new trainees choose to enter the field
  • One vital aspect of our work is death investigation – we not only provide families with answers, but also provide key information in legal proceedings
  • Unfortunately, clashes between the absolutes of the law and the uncertainties of science can make our jobs difficult
  • To encourage more young pathologists to consider pediatrics, we need better pathology education, integration and networking

Pathology is in high demand. Many laboratory medicine specialists are heading for retirement and few new recruits are entering the field, so numbers are dropping. Not all subspecialties are equally troubled, but I know pediatric pathology is suffering from a dearth of new members each year, for which there are several possible reasons. Many pathologists don’t realize it’s a separate field at all, and those who do often don’t see the appeal. Why choose a subspecialty where the patients are so different to the adults you trained upon, and where you must regularly face tough subjects, such as chronic disease and death investigations in children? But the reality is that pediatric pathology is a vital part of our work; nowhere in the Hippocratic Oath is it written that our healing art is for adults only. So what does the job of a pediatric pathologist really involve – and how can we draw others to the field?

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About the Author

Marta Cohen

Marta Cohen is a consultant pediatric histopathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, UK.

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