When we came across PathSIG (Pathology Student Interest Group) on Twitter, we knew we had found something special. Why? PathSIG is the first-known virtual pathology student interest group of its kind, providing education and resources to students interested in the field and holding it all in a free format so that anyone can join. With communication taking place mainly through Twitter, resources are shared freely and support is just one tweet or DM away. We had the opportunity to hear from many of the group’s Medical Student Leadership Board about their experiences with PathSIG and we are excited to share their passion for PathSIG (and pathology!) with you.
What is PathSIG?
Sarah J. Lewis (@sarahjlewis9), OMS-IV at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Georgia and PathSIG Social Media Co-Chair, explained PathSIG as this:
“PathSIG is a virtual pathology student interest group founded by passionate pathologists (shout out to Dr. Kamran Mirza, MD, PhD-@KMirza!) and medical students aimed to bring engaging material to those students who are most interested. PathSIG has hosted events ranging from virtual interview tips from program directors to career seminars and symposia. PathSIG is also deeply devoted to helping other pathology student groups continue to foster student interest in the specialty of pathology.”
That’s right: PathSIG is rocking medical schools everywhere by shining a light on pathology and laboratory medicine. And yes, we mean everywhere. Since PathSIG is a virtual group for those interested in pathology, anyone (with an internet connection) can join. Members of the Medical Student Leadership Board hail from Texas to Wisconsin to Florida, to name just a few. What’s more, PathSIG members span the globe and international medical school students from the UK, Asia and the Middle East have attended PathSIG events. PathSIG is not only filling the gap in pathology education and offering up resources like program director panels, virtual symposium, and career talks but they are helping to develop the next generation of pathologists. They are, quite literally, filling the pathologist pipeline. Sarah added, “We at PathSIG recognize the shortage of pathologists, and it makes us really sad because we love pathology and laboratory medicine. We hope that by bringing high quality content, robust networking opportunities, and our enthusiasm for the field we can help bring new students to not only engage with pathology content but also see themselves as a pathologist in the future.”
Grace Kwon (@gracejkwon), M4 and MD/PhD student at the University of Connecticut and Social Media Co-Chair told us, “I have already met (virtually) an incredible number of individuals, including peers who are at the same career level as me, and also current pathology residents and faculty across the country. As it is virtual and Twitter is a primary source of our communication, it has become incredibly easy to make new connections, share information, and ask questions that I would not have been able to get answered at my home institution, where there is currently no pathology residency program. The medical school I attend also doesn’t routinely have students pursue pathology every year, so it has been nice to connect with other medical students who are interested in the field as much as I am.”
Isabella Dishong (@IsabellaDishong), OMS-IV at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton and President, shared, “I didn’t have a pathology club at my home institution, and as far as I know, I am the only student in my class interested in pathology. It has been awesome getting to know other medical students who love pathology just as much as I do! I feel like we all have so much in common and it has made me feel like I made the right decision choosing this career.”
“One of the biggest benefits I’ve gotten from joining PathSIG is just how energizing it is to talk to other students interested in pathology! Everyone has days when they hear about the misconceptions people have about pathology and it can get you feeling down, but the passion everyone in PathSIG brings helps to put things back into perspective,” said Benjamin Weber (@bww144), M2 at the University of Wisconsin and Events Co-chair.
Keaton Erickson (@KErickson123), M2 at the Chicago Medical School and VP of Academic Development, added, “I’ve loved growing my network of faculty and students. Our medical colleagues and the public have a great deal of misconceptions about pathology and laboratory sciences, and each perspective I hear via PathSIG events allows me to battle my own preconceptions about the field. Also, PathSIG’s histology review sessions helped a great deal in preparing for my block exams during M1 year!”
We heard from many members, even those who already had some experience in the lab, that being a part of PathSIG has confirmed what many of them knew all along: pathology is where they are meant to be. Imagine having that clarity as a M1 or M2. PathSIG makes that clarity possible.
“I love being able to see all of the passion and interest from other pathology professionals in the group. With already having a strong passion for pathology, knowing that there is an organization that advocates for this field like PathSIG has greatly solidified my interest,” said Alexis Lello (@alello22), Pathologists' Assistant Class of 2022 at Tulane University School of Medicine and PathSIG’s PA Liaison.
When asked “What was your interest level in pathology when you first learned about PathSIG compared to your interest in pathology today?”, Keaton responded “Greatly improved. I had a sneaking suspicion that I would enjoy the field before joining, but afterwards, I am quite certain that pathology is where I will end up. Hearing from active pathologists about their current work, interests, and advocacy has lit a fire in me to pursue my own specific interests within this field. I’ve loved watching brilliant pathology educators speak about their passions, so I’ve been very inspired to pursue educational endeavors within the field of pathology.”
What is to come
Sarah shared, “We are going to host a residency interview panel with residency program directors again this Fall after hearing about how successful it was last year. We also like using our social media presence to make informative posts about the field - What is pathology? What do pathologists do? What are pathologists’ assistants? Those are the questions we’re answering. Other events we have held in the past included panels with rising PGY-1s to help medical students navigate the Pathology residency application process and virtual interviews, histology review sessions for students studying for USMLE Step 1, how to leverage social media as a medical student, as well as how to establish a mentoring relationship as a medical student. All of these events were great and we plan on hosting similar events again.”
Let’s just take a moment to think about what a difference PathSIG is making in the practice of pathology as a whole. PathSIG is helping to develop the next generation of pathologists with education, guidance and support. Some large institutions cannot provide that. But here is a group of medical students shining a light on pathology and laboratory medicine. Members are enacting change, bringing awareness to pathology and what it means to be a pathologist, bringing pathology to the forefront of medicine where it belongs. This is sure to be felt generations down the road. For more information about PathSIG, visit their Twitter page @Path_SIG or online at https://linktr.ee/virtualpathsig.
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