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Applying for a histopathology training number

Applying for a histopathology training number

If you think you might be interested in histopathology, contact your local Pathology Ambassador, or histopathology department to arrange taster days/shadowing and to speak to the consultants/trainees – they will most likely be delighted to help. Useful information can be found here.

Once you have decided that you would like to apply to histopathology:

  • Start the histopathology application in good time. This allows you to build experience and address any gaps.
  • Decide whether to apply for an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF).

The application

Don’t worry if you haven’t had an FY1/FY2 histopathology rotation, as few people do. Instead, consider the ways that you have interacted with histopathology during your foundation jobs and write short reflective pieces on how this changed patient management. They’ll be helpful later when you apply.

Consider the following:

  • Histopathology reports which you’ve read
  • Phone calls you may have had with the histopathology consultant/registrar when your consultant asked you to clarify results
  • MDT discussions

Then gain experience in histopathology. This is important as it will demonstrate your commitment and also help you to confirm that histopathology is the specialty for you:

  • Contact your local Pathology Ambassador or histopathology department and ask to speak with histopathology trainees/consultants.
  • Arrange taster days: ideally try to experience all aspects of the work (e.g. cut up, microscopy, MDT, post mortems perhaps with a visit to the Coroner’s Court).
  • Ask if there is a pathology audit/small research project that you can get involved with.
  • Apply for membership of pathology organisations e.g.

  • Consider applying to events advertised on their websites e.g.

    • the PathSoc and RCPath Summer Schools
    • the RCPath ‘Path to Success’ meeting
    • the PathSoc ‘Undergraduate day’ at the PathSoc Summer/Winter Meetings
  • Consider applying for PathSoc / BDIAP / RCPath grants / prizes / competitions
  • Consider presenting a poster at the PathSoc Summer/Winter Meetings.
  • Consider writing about your experiences e.g. for the PathSoc undergraduate blog or RCPath Bulletin (contact the Editor in the first instance).

Look at the application form (if it isn’t available online, ask histopathology trainees for a copy of the previous year’s form). Identify any gaps in your skillset and start to work on these, so that you’ll be able to complete the form leaving no box unanswered. Usually you will be asked to demonstrate the following:

  • Achievements
  • Commitment to histopathology
  • Realistic understanding of histopathology
  • Understanding of histopathology training
  • Medical competence
  • Awareness of ethical issues
  • Leadership / management
  • Teaching
  • Audit, research, papers, posters, presentations

Write / update your CV. Few people have histopathology-specific achievements on their CV. However, because histopathology overlaps with almost all of medicine and surgery, there will be a histopathological relevance to most of your achievements if you frame them in the right way.

You may need to submit a paper portfolio (check the online information, as the application process changes year on year). If so start early and consider including the following:

  • Contents page
  • Sections/dividers, page numbers
  • Certificates, degrees
  • Reflections
  • Your CV
  • Section on histopathology experience

Decide where you'd like to apply to:

  • research the location, what are the advantages / disadvantages / Unique Selling Points
  • contact the local trainees
  • consider arranging a visit

Writing the application

  • Ask to look at an application from a previous year
  • Be concise… every word counts!
  • Ask peers / colleagues / family / consultants to read it
  • Proof-read it - pay attention to word counts, grammar etc

The interview

  • Find out the format in advance by speaking to trainees/consultants
  • You will need to demonstrate the same skills that you demonstrated in the application
  • Know your application / CV / portfolio thoroughly

For many people, this will be the first interview they’ve had since applying to medical school. Arrange a mock and consider looking at interview books e.g. ‘Medical Interviews: a comprehensive guide to CT, ST and Registrar interview skills’ by Olivier Picard (your medical school library may stock this book or others).

Be confident, enjoy and good luck!