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Path to Pathology as an International Medical School Graduate, Part One

One’s path to pathology is as unique as pathology itself. We wanted to share these unique paths through the eyes of international medical school graduates in a new series titled Path to Pathology. We have guest bloggers at various stages in their pathology career ready to serve up their stories. Our first guest blogger is Monica Miyakawa-Liu, an MS4 at University of Queensland-Ochsner.

“But Mooooom! I always go to bed late on Wednesdays!”

Bedtimes were always a source of contestment between my mother and my 10 year-old self. Wednesday nights, however, were when I argued the hardest and loudest. After all, that was when the new episodes of NBC’s Crossing Jordan aired. I was riveted by the main character, who was a stubborn yet passionate medical examiner named Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh. She was everything I wanted to be: fearless, intelligent, and relentless about the truth. Some may argue that I was too young to watch a show about drugs and violent murders; but I’m actually incredibly grateful for a mother that caved into my nagging demands for more TV time. Dr. Cavanaugh was a prime example of why women in media are so important, and in fact, it wasn’t even her positive attributes that drew me into her character. It was her imperfections; she was angry, brash, and awkward. She was someone relatable, and I wanted to be just like her.

By the time I entered medical school, I learned that pathology didn’t involve dodging bullets and steamy romances. However, there was something about the field that still attracted me. I had always loved puzzles and mysteries, and the idea of making diagnostic discoveries delighted me. I was truly lucky to have a well-stocked pathology museum at my university, which came with scheduled art nights and an associated lecture series. The collection held unusual specimens which gripped me with the same fascination that Crossing Jordan had, many years ago. There were fetuses with anencephaly and toxic megacolons that reached enormous sizes. Microscopically, we learned to see the invisible processes that had constructed these unbelievable sights. Psammoma bodies that piled on top of each other, forming a meningioma. Acid fast bacilli that peppered and seemingly drilled holes into a pediatric liver. It was just all so interesting and strange, far removed from the routine.

While I had tried my hand at exploring other medical specialties, the only field that potentially held my interest as deeply as pathology was infectious disease, which had shared a common feature of exploring an unseen world and hunting down specific diagnoses that tied together the clinical picture. Ultimately though, my journey into pathology had always felt natural and enjoyable. I found mentors easily, as the community was warm and welcoming, and my mentors were equally as excited to teach as I was to learn. By the time I left my 4th year elective in pathology, I knew that this was the field I wanted to dedicate my time to.

I plan to pursue a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology in the United States. My current specialty interests are varied and include forensics, pediatric pathology, and clinical microbiology. I am looking forward to the additional experiences that will shape my career and interests on my journey to becoming a pathologist.

A huge thank you goes out to Monica Miyakawa-Liu for sharing her story. Stay tuned for next week’s part two of Path to Pathology where we will hear from a recent medical school graduate applying for pathology residency. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please contact Kristin at

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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