To the Editor.—The College of American Pathologists (CAP) has administered a survey on the job market for newly trained pathologists annually since 2012. All CAP junior members and fellows in practice less than 3 years are invited to complete the electronic survey. Respondents (1) must have actively searched for and applied to at least one nonfellowship position since July 1 of the prior year, and (2) the position sought had to be their first position since residency/fellowship training. Respondents have approximately 2 weeks to complete the survey, typically administered at the beginning of June. The CAP Graduate Medical Education Committee has published several manuscripts on trends of interest to future job seekers, employers, and the potential pathology pipeline.1–4 The 2020 survey included the open-ended question: “What impact did/does the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have on your job search?”
Results are based on invitations to 3347 potential respondents. Five hundred seventy individuals began the survey, 417 were screened out, and 24 submitted incomplete responses. A total of 129 newly trained pathologists who had searched for a nonfellowship position since July 1, 2019, completed the survey, representing approximately 22% of the newly trained pathologists (estimated N = 600) entering the workforce each year. Of these 129 respondents, 85% (n = 110) had accepted a nonfellowship position and 15% (n = 19) were still looking for a job. Respondents had an opportunity to comment on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their job search. Overall, 85% (n = 110 of 129) of respondents commented, of whom 85% (n = 94 of 110) had accepted a position and 15% (n = 16 of 110) had not. We sought to evaluate themes on which more than 3 comments were received. For most respondents, the COVID-19 pandemic did not have a significant influence on their job search, as they had already accepted a position prior to restrictions (furloughs, hiring freezes, travel restrictions) taking effect. However, of 54 respondents who free-texted general comments about this year's job market, 26% (n = 14 of 54) mentioned concern about the impact of COVID-19, including personal or anecdotal instances of diminished opportunities due to hiring freezes. A number indicated having remote rather than in-person interviews because of travel restrictions. A few respondents indicated modification (ie, reduction in hours/salary) or rescission of job offers. The Table demonstrates respondents' perceptions of the impact of the pandemic on their job search.
It is encouraging that most respondents had secured positions by March/April, reflecting a shorter search period, before the full force of the pandemic. Although specimen volumes were diminished on average from 30% to 60% based on figures quoted from various media outlets,5–7 practices that were in good financial health before the pandemic or that were optimistic about volume recovery appeared to honor their hiring commitments. Future challenges remain in 2021, as the full financial impact will likely continue.
Authors are current or past members of the College of American Pathologists Graduate Medical Education Committee; Johnson and Lofgreen are employees of the College of American Pathologists.
The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.
The views and opinions expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army/Navy/Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the United States government.