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.

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