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Pathology Residency Program Details

The residency program provides an appropriate background in anatomic pathology and/or laboratory medicine not only for those seeking an academic career in a specialty area, but also for those seeking to enter the general practice of pathology. Residents divide service commitments between the UCSD Medical Centers (Hillcrest and La Jolla) and the San Diego Veterans Affairs Health Care System, with many opportunities to participate in the teaching program of the UCSD School of Medicine. The Department of Pathology offers four distinct training programs for residents:

  • General training in combined anatomic pathology and laboratory medicine (4 years) or specialized training in one of the three divisions of pathology
  • Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine (3 years)
  • Anatomic Pathology (3 years)
  • Neuropathology (2 years after completing 2 years of Anatomic Pathology)
  • Research-Residency Option

All of these programs meet the American Board of Pathology training requirements for certification.

California Medical Licensure

All Applicants must pass the USMLE Step III December 1st of the year preceding licensure. All US Graduates must obtain a California License prior to the start of their third year of training. International Graduates must be licensed by prior to the start of their fourth year of training.

Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine

Overview: The Clinical Pathology (CP) training program at UCSD offers comprehensive training in basic and advanced laboratory medicine to residents in either a combined Anatomic Pathology/Clinical Pathology (AP/CP) program or a CP only program. The faculty includes members of the Clinical Pathology divisions at UCSD Medical Centers, the VA San Diego Healthcare System, Children’s Hospital, and distinguished pathologists from nearby institutions such as The Scripps hospitals, the Naval Regional Medical Center, the Medical Examiners' office, Palomar-Pomorado Hospitals and other specialty laboratories.

Program Goals: The goal of the program is to produce competent Clinical Pathologists who can direct modern clinical laboratories in academic or community settings. Major fields of training include hematopathology, coagulation, transfusion medicine, medical microbiology, clinical chemistry, toxicology, and flow cytometry. Molecular pathology, cytogenetics, immunogenetics, stem cell processing, cellular therapy, apheresis, laboratory management, and information systems have dedicated rotations or are incorporated into major rotations. More in-depth training in these areas may be obtained through elective rotations. Although not required, resident research with faculty is strongly encouraged.

Rotations: It should be noted that when residents are training in CP, they do not have cross-over responsibilities in the AP division. This allows the residents ample time to learn and explore fully each individual field of modern clinical pathology. In general, the CP residents rotate through the major services on a monthly basis. In each rotation, residents will act as the primary point of contact and consultant for clinicians seeking input from the laboratory. Rounds with the laboratory directors usually occur daily, with current clinical cases providing a starting point for one-on-one teaching. Under direct supervision of the attending pathologist, residents will provide consultation and written interpretative reports as appropriate for each service. Additional responsibilities of the rotating residents include preparation and participation in conferences and rounds relevant to individual services, participation in laboratory inspection and laboratory management, and participation in trouble-shooting, evaluation, and implementation of laboratory tests.

Conferences: In addition to formal rotations, all CP residents are required to attend weekly and monthly conferences which include didactic lecture series, resident-run case conferences and a journal club.

Call: CP residents also take night and weekend calls for laboratory services on a weekly basis. These calls often involve transfusion medicine issues and management of critical results from the clinical laboratories. An attending Clinical Pathologist is also on call to provide support to the on-call resident. All calls are recorded in a log book which is reviewed with an attending pathologist on a regular basis.

As the residents gain experience, they are expected to increasingly function as the acting Medical Director of the laboratory, with the close support of the attending pathologist.

Anatomic Pathology Residency and Fellowship Training

Overview: The UCSD Department of Pathology offers a full-service training program in Anatomic Pathology (AP) with built-in flexibility to allow for careers in either academics or community practice. Training covers surgical pathology, cytopathology, forensic, placental and autopsy pathology as well as exposure to the important ancillary laboratory services of immunohistochemistry, immunoflourescence molecular biology, and electron microscopy. Residents can pursue 2 years of AP as AP/CP residents or 3 years of AP as AP-only residents. In the third year, residents are eligible to apply separately for our nationally competitive Surgical Pathology Fellowship with extensive cytopathology exposure. The surgical pathology fellowship includes three-month rotations at the Pathology Departments of Kaiser San Diego and UCSD Children’s Hospital.

Goals/Rotations: Through resident-focused curriculum, residents will gain vast experience in performing and reading frozen section and other intraoperative consultations,and FNAs. Under close supervision by fellows and faculty, AP residents are fully integrated into the processing of specimens by assuming primary responsibility for grossing-in the specimens, viewing the case slides with staff, contributing to the final diagnosis, and dictating the final pathologic diagnoses. This resident-integrated hands on approach quickly leads to skill acquisition and as AP skills are developed additional responsibility is assigned.

The progress and clinical competence of each resident is evaluated during or after each rotation in order to provide information regarding resident progress. In addition, residents evaluate each rotation. Residents are encouraged to participate in translational research projects, present at a sundry of conferences, and interact regularly with clinicians.

Conferences: There is a full teaching schedule with daily surgical pathology conferences for residents, fellows and faculty. There are also didactic conferences twice a week, and weekly call presentations by residents, fellows and faculty, cytology conferences and conferences with faculty from outside institutions.

Call: During Surgical Pathology rotations, residents are required to rotate on-call after hour/weekend consultations and specimen processing. This is done under the supervision of the attending pathologist on call.

Following completion of the residency program, our residents have superior success on the American Board of Pathology examinations, and various fellowships as well as academic and private practice opportunities.


Click here for information on the Neuropathology Fellowship.

Research/Residency Option

Overview: The UCSD Pathology Residency Program encourages applications from MD-PhD and other research-oriented residents. We also recognize the need of many applicants to continue their research training while pursuing residency training. Fortunately, our Department and University boast many top-notch research laboratories, which emphasize translational research. To facilitate the development of the physician-scientist, we offer fellowship program in which residents are allowed to spend up to a full year in a research laboratory, with salary support guaranteed by the Department. Additional years of research may be funded by extramural grants or by the Principal Investigator. These special department fellowships are offered on a competitive basis; however, a commitment may be obtained during the recruitment process. Please feel free to mention your interest in this program when applying. We look forward to working with you.

House Staff Documents

Terms and Conditions of Appointment