Pathology on-call experiences help prepare trainees for successful transition from residency to independent practice, and as such are an integral component of training. However, few data exist on anatomic pathology resident on-call workload and experience.


To obtain an overall picture of the anatomic pathology on-call experience to inform and improve resident education.


Retrospective and prospective review of the daily anatomic pathology on-call summaries from July 2016 to June 2020.


During the first 2 years of the study (ie, retrospective portion), only 19% of on-call summaries (138 of 730) were available for review. After interventions, the on-call summary submission rate jumped to 98% (716 of 731). After-hours calls were most frequent on weekdays from 5 to 8 pm. The most frequent requests were for frozen sections (55%; 619 of 1125 calls), inquiries regarding disposition of fresh placentas (13%; 148 of 1125 calls), and inquiries regarding disposition of various other specimens (6%; 68 of 1125 calls). After-hours frozen section requests were most frequent for gynecologic and head and neck specimens. Notably, a significant number of after-hours calls were recurring preanalytic issues amenable to system-level improvements. We were able to eliminate the most common of these recurring preanalytic calls with stepwise interventions.


To our knowledge, this is the first study analyzing the anatomic pathology resident on-call experience. In addition to obtaining a broad overview of the residents' clinical exposure on this service, we identified and resolved issues critical to optimal patient care (eg, inconsistent “patient hand-off”) and improved the resident on-call experience (eg, fewer preanalytic calls increased resident time for other clinical, educational, or wellness activities).

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.