How influential are medical school curriculum and other medical school characteristics in students' selecting pathology as a specialty?

Cindy B. McCloskey, Mark Brissette, John Michael Childs, Amanda Lofgreen, Kristen Johnson, Melissa R. George, Ashley M. Holloman, Bronwyn Bryant, Mary P. Berg, Lisa Ross Dixon, Julie Katz Karp, Barbara E.C. Knollmann-Ritschel, Victor Gerardo Prieto, Charles F. Timmons, Robert D. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There has been a significant decline in the number of United States allopathic medical students matching to pathology residency programs. Data acquired from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) show sustained variation in the medical school production of students who go on to pathology residency. When divided into groups based on the medical school's historical volume of graduates entering pathology, the schools in groups labeled Group 1 and Group 2 produced significantly higher and lower proportions of pathology residents, respectively. This study aimed to identify what medical school curriculum elements and other medical school characteristics might explain the differences observed in the AAMC data. The Dean or another undergraduate medical education contact from the Group 1 and Group 2 schools was invited to participate in an interview. Pathology Program Directors and Pathology Department Chairs were also included in communications. Thirty interviews were completed with equal numbers from each group. Interview questions probed pathology experiences, existence, and structure of a pathology interest group, options for post-sophomore fellowships, recent curriculum changes, and the extent of mentoring programs. Surprisingly, the curriculum does not appear to be a predictor of a medical school's production of students who enter pathology residency. A significantly greater percentage of Group 1 schools are public institutions compared to Group 2 schools. Other factors that may increase the number of students who go into pathology include mentoring, active learning versus observation, and post-sophomore fellowships or other opportunities to work in the capacity of a new pathology resident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100073
JournalAcademic Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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