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Shaping the Future: How Texas State Pathology Leads the Way in Engaging Young Pathologists

I have come a long way in my short career in pathology, as a resident and now fellow. While many factors have contributed to my success, one of the most impactful has been my involvement with my state pathology society, the Texas Society of Pathologists (TSP). Alongside the TSP's broader role representing Texas pathologists and their patients, the TSP has a unique section for the younger generation of pathologists and pathologists-in-training, Young Pathologists’ Section (YPS). Through the YPS and related activities, the TSP serves as a model state society for engaging young pathologists.

Founded in 1997, the YPS (the TSP itself has been around since 1921). As described in an article in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine:

"In 1997, the TSP established the Young Pathologists' Section (YPS) for pathologists in training or in the early phase of their careers. The YPS convenes at the TSP annual meeting and sponsors a midsummer program that features topics of special interest to young pathologists. The YPS chair has a slotted seat on the TSP board."

- Rodolfo Laucirica, MD, FCAP

The Young Pathologists Section Retreat 

The Young Pathologists’ Section Retreat was my first professional pathology meeting. I was a PGY1 and only two months into my residency. The retreat exposed me to a broader circle of pathologists—I met new colleagues, made new friends, and benefited from the meeting's educational activities. Resultant from this experience, I have attended the retreat almost every year since.

The two-day weekend program opens with a Saturday evening meet-and-greet reception followed by the Abstract Mini-Series. These short platform presentations were introduced in 2013 so trainees may obtain funding from their departments to attend the retreat. This action resulted in increased attendance. 

The second day includes a one-hour YPS business meeting and includes guest lectures on topics relevant to young pathologists, such as:

  • how to negotiate a contract
  • navigating interviews and resumes 
  • balancing a career in academic pathology with family and personal life
  • becoming a medical director  
  • updates on continuing certification from the American Board of Pathology (ABP)

The YSP and the TSP at Large

The YPS and broader TSP do more to engage young pathologists in Texas. The YPS hosts happy hours across the state, usually in July, to introduce and recruit first-year residents to the retreat and serve as another opportunity for networking with established TSP members. 

Additionally, the YPS designates a liaison at each of Texas's eight training programs. This liaison announces and encourages participation in TSP programs, and relays interests and concerns of his or her colleagues to the YPS and TSP leadership. YSP liaisons are encouraged to attend TSP Board meetings to learn how the TSP functions and address issues critical to pathologists, and to share their perspectives with board members. The TSP covers the costs of liaisons to attend the YPS Retreat. Note that the liaison program, initiated in 2012, has increased membership and involvement of young pathologists in TSP activities.

The TSP further encourages the involvement of young pathologists in several ways, intended to address the varied interests of this cohort. Poster and platform competitions at the TSP annual meeting bring trainees from around the state, and for many is their introduction to the TSP. This friendly competition includes an award to the training program with the best total score. Young pathologists seeking more involvement in organized pathology are encouraged to serve on TSP committees. 

My Texas State Pathology Experience

My own experience with the TSP has included participation in the newest and very young-pathologist-centered initiative, the Digital Content Subcommittee (DCS). The DCS was founded in 2017 and chaired by Adam Booth, then a first-year resident at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. I joined the subcommittee as a member and took over as chair the following year. Contributing members from the residency and fellowship programs across the state create educational content posted on a 5-day weekly basis on the TSP's social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). The final post includes the contributor's short bio, a picture, and their specific interests in pathology. The activities of the DCS, led by its young pathologist members, has tremendously grown the TSP's online and social media presence and has engaged pathologists locally and around the world. My involvement in the DCS also led me to my membership in the CAP’s Digital Content Committee.

Building the Careers of Young Pathology Leaders

My YPS TPS story is just one example of how the Texas Society of Pathologists engages and enhances the careers of many young Texas pathologists. In the face of the significant shifts in medicine today, our profession needs young leaders and strong organizations more than ever. The TSP's Young Pathologists' Society was created with an eye to just such a future—to evolve the specialty to meet the changing times. 

My hope is that other state and local pathology organizations can use this example from the Texas Society of Pathologists to build pathology leaders, state by state, province by province, country by country. Our shared future - our ability to do the work we love and provide the quality of care our patients deserve - depends on it. 

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Dr. Bekra Yorke, past president of the TSP, 2018, for help in writing this article.


Dr. Ziad El Zaatari

Ziad El-Zaatari, MD, is a fellow in Surgical Pathology and former GU/Renal fellow and AP/CP resident at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Dr. El-Zaatari is a junior member of the College of American Pathologists’ Digital Content Committee and member and past Chair of the Texas Society of Pathologists’ Digital Content Subcommittee. He can be found on Twitter as @ziad_zaatari.