Histopathology: pros, cons & going into it for the wrong reasons
- Hugely varied working day.
- Cross-discipline specialty: combines knowledge of histology, pathology, anatomy, surgery, medicine across all specialties.
- Fascinating insight into health & disease processes.
- Intellectually stimulating.
- In charge of your own workload.
- Good work life balance: no night shifts, few on-calls.
- Working within a large team: other histopathologists, other members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT), biomedical scientists, secretaries etc.
- Excellent 1:1 supervision & block teaching during training: trainees often feel very supported.
- The job is compatible with carrying out additional roles e.g. research, teaching, leadership.
- Currently many consultant jobs available.
- Some trainees miss the patient contact.
- Some trainees miss working on the wards/clinical skills.
- Some trainees don’t like microscopy.
- Some trainees don’t like post mortems (although these are optional after the first 2 years of training).
- Busy job, demanding work, high levels of responsibility.
- A lot to learn, challenging exams.
Reasons not to go into histopathology
Don’t go into histopathology for the wrong reasons. You’re likely to get found out at the application stage, or worse you may get a job and realise several years later that it’s not the right specialty for you.
Don’t go into histopathology:
- just because you don’t like work on the wards/are thinking of quitting medicine: histopathologists need a good clinical understanding and interact regularly with the clinical teams (i.e. other members of the MDT).
- just because you want a good work life balance: the workload is demanding, training is rigorous and histopathologists do work some on-calls.
- just because it’s one of the less competitive specialties: the training programme and subsequently working as a consultant are intellectually challenging and not an easy option.