Monday, November 15, 2010

I am a Pathologist

UK National Pathology Week: Introducing Pathology to the Public

 “What do you do for a living?”

“I am a Pathologist.” I paused, feeling the need to explain further. “I spend most of my time looking down a microscope.”

Inevitably, there is the perplexed look and a slight frown.  “So what do you do exactly? How do you become one?”

In general, we Pathologists are not very good at promoting ourselves. One of the taglines of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia is “Pathology is Medicine.” We have elegantly been telling people that we are the “Doctors’ doctors” for years. These descriptions are clever and succinct, but at the same time, confusing and oversimplified. What it means is we study the mechanics of disease. With this knowledge, we provide answers for doctors, just as doctors provide answers for their patients.  How can we convey this to the people?

The Pathologists in the United Kingdom seem to have the right idea. Every year since 2008, they have organised National Pathology Week. It is an educational programme designed with the general public in mind. The scale and organisation is massive, with lectures and displays in hospitals throughout the country, and also in universities and museums. There are even regular podcasts and a twitter feed. A sample of events can be found here:

Part of the reason we set up this site is to communicate directly with the public, that what we do is important, and genuinely interesting at the same time. Maybe with a few more “Yes we can”s, there will be an Australian National Pathology Week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

About Our Department

About us
Anatomical Pathology is the branch of pathology in which diseases are diagnosed by the microscopic examination of tissues (Histopathology) and cells (Cytopathology) by a specialist doctor in Anatomical Pathology. At Concord Hospital we also have an Electron Microscopy unit which examines specimens at an extremely high magnification not possible with the normal light microscope.

The Anatomical Pathology department at Concord Hospital is directed by Associate Professor Betty Lin, and has 11 medical staff (7 Specialists and 4 Registrars), 16 scientific and technical staff, and 2 clerical staff.

Our services
The department provides a comprehensive diagnostic service in Anatomical Pathology to Concord Hospital and Canterbury Hospital. We also receive specimens and consultations from other institutions including Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Strathfield Private Hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, Childrens Hospital Westmead and other public and private laboratories throughout NSW.

Mutidisciplinary team meetings are held regularly with various clinical departments to review the pathology of patients and to discuss their treatment and prognosis. We are active in teaching medical students from the University of Sydney. The department undertakes collaborative research, including major projects on bowel cancer (with Colorectal Surgical Department), the electron microscopic changes in bladder dysfunction (with Urology Department), and changes in burns (with Burns Unit).

Specimens obtained by biopsy or surgical resection need to be processed to produce slides which can be examined by the pathologist under the microscope. This requires equipment at various stages of the procedure, including cassette labelling machine, slide writer, tissue processors, embedding station, microtomes, staining machines, cover slipping machine, and computers linked to the laboratory management system. We will give you a brief description of how specimens are generally processed in the next post. So, please stay tuned!