Multiple articles and surveys in the literature suggest that medical students find a career in pathology undesirable and believe it is disproportionately focused primarily on the autopsy.


To measure the effect of applied interventions on medical student attitudes about the field of pathology.


This prospective study involving medical students from first through fourth year was conducted as a pilot study in 2 medical schools in the United States. A 2-part anonymous survey regarding interest in pathology as a career and familiarity with the specialty using a 10-point scale was given to first- and second-year medical students before and after they listened to a 10-minute pathology career presentation. The same survey was given to third- and fourth-year medical students before and after a 4-week pathology elective.


A total of 121 and 83 students responded to the survey before and after the intervention, respectively. Of the 121 students who responded to the survey before the intervention, 106 (87.6%) had not spent significant time in a pathology laboratory before the intervention. The majority of responses in interest in career, job responsibilities, and features of pathologists before and after the intervention demonstrated a statistically significant difference (P < .001). We compared survey scores of presentation versus 4-week rotation groups before and after the intervention. Students who experienced the presentation did not differ from students who experienced the rotation in the majority of questions related to interest in career, job responsibilities, and features of pathologists.


Our study suggests that pathology exposure strategies can have a beneficial effect on student perceptions of the field and consideration of a career in pathology. Overall, the presentation intervention on the first- and second-year students seemed to have the greatest effect.

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Author notes

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

Portions of this manuscript were presented as a poster abstract at the annual meeting of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology; March 5, 2020; Los Angeles, California.