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Path Rotation - Yes, Please!

We recently asked #pathtwitter why it’s a good idea for third-year medical students to take a pathology rotation. When choosing specialties, third year is when (for many students) the magic happens and they begin to get an idea about what they want to do for the rest of their lives as medical professionals. As always, we received great feedback from outstanding pathologists which inspired us to write this blog post in favor of pathology rotations.

It was clear from the feedback we received: every aspect of medicine has a connection to pathology. Period. Whether it’s assessing margins for the surgeon or ensuring timely, accurate lab results for the generalist - no matter the specialty, physicians will work with and request pathology services. A rotation as a third-year is a great opportunity to become more familiar with the inner workings of the lab and how pathologists are an integral part of daily medicine. Students may even be tempted to come to the bright side!

Most physicians will order a biopsy, interpret lab results or participate in tumor boards at some point in their careers. In today's age of medicine, everything is about adding value to patient-centered care. So let's posit how firsthand experience with the biopsy/lab workflow applies to skills needed across many specialties. Through a pathology rotation, students learn how the lab functions and how biopsies are handled in detail. Need to know what personnel to interact with at any point of the biopsy chain of custody? Want to understand technical components of testing to better answer patients' questions? Having trouble deciphering a complicated lab report? These questions will arise in any physician’s career and will be answered during a pathology rotation. Every patient loves a good physician who explains next steps for testing, especially in the high-anxiety biopsy scenario. Pathology rotations give the context future physicians need to set realistic time expectations for the patients and for themselves. Students learn more than just interpreting test results. What if the biopsy renders a cancer diagnosis? If the type, amount and length of chemotherapy is based on the pathologist’s findings, understanding what pathologists do helps physicians decide the right treatment. Really, all physicians should have a clear understanding of what pathologists do, how they come to their conclusions and how to communicate pathology to improve patient-centered care.

For med students not quite sure yet which specialty they want to go into, it’s definitely worth giving a pathology rotation a shot. For those who already chose a specialty outside of pathology, a pathology rotation will help you build a strong foundation and is an imperative component of becoming a well-rounded, knowledgeable physician, no matter the specialty. Aside from general physician skill value-adds through experience like the biopsy/lab workflow, students choosing pathology rotations right now have the opportunity to be involved at the forefront of the digital pathology revolution. That’s right, pathology is one of the few specialties currently evaluating breakthrough technologies that may result in a paradigm shift for pathology and other specialties. Who knows, the emergence of digital pathology may be just what the doctor ordered to invigorate a new generation of pathologists.

Built on the vision of better patient outcomes, Instapath was founded in 2017 by engineers and scientists to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis. Our team made it our mission to develop fast and easy digital pathology technology so diagnosis can be made in minutes instead of days. To learn more about Instapath and our technology, visit or contact us at

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