What is a Pathologist Pipeline Champion?
A Pathologist Pipeline Champion is a pathologist or pathology resident who:
- Serves as an active role model by demonstrating what a pathologist does.
- Advocates for pathology by providing opportunities, either directly or through others, to engage students in multiple facets of pathology and provides online resources to support this.
- Mentors students and advises them regarding applying to pathology residency.
Why do we need Pathologist Pipeline Champions?
Pathologist Pipeline Champions raise awareness of the importance of pathology and laboratory medicine within health care. Building a robust pipeline proactively addresses concerns about an impending shortage of practitioners1 and decreased interest in pathology as a specialty.2
Medical school faculty have direct student contact and therefore are in the best position to influence student understanding and perceptions about pathology as a career. Faculty help shepherd students through the stages of specialty decision making:
- Thought stage: Thinking about specialty choice; recognizing hallmarks of specialties that spark interest.
- Exploration stage: Investigating available resources and opportunities and identifying role models to learn about the specialties of interest.
- Decision stage: Participating in activities, rotations, and mentoring to acquire the concrete information and experiences needed to choose a specialty.
- Action stage: Applying for a residency in the chosen specialty.
The activities of the Pathologist Pipeline Champion also serve to familiarize students choosing other specialties with the importance of the work of pathologists and laboratory medicine specialists. They can help students learn how to effectively consult with pathologists.
Who can become a Pathologist Pipeline Champion?
Faculty and residents can be Pipeline Champions. The ideal Pipeline Champion:
- Is passionate about pathology.
- Enjoys mentoring and working with medical students.
- Is willing to proactively engage with students and share their career experience.
- Wants to empower colleagues both within pathology and across other medical specialties to enhance student mentoring and exposure to pathology.
At least one Pipeline Champion at each institution should be a faculty member for continuity. Additional resident involvement is strongly encouraged.
What do Pathologist Pipeline Champions do?
Pipeline Champions will commit to encouraging and/or coordinating activities within their medical school to elicit and support student interest in pathology through all four stages of specialty decision making.
Pipeline Champions will be a role model for students and colleagues as a member of the health care team and engage in activities such as:
- Providing resources and opportunities to engage medical students in pathology.
- Promoting the recruitment of students with diverse backgrounds and interests.
- Encouraging and supporting pathology interest group activities.
- Mentoring students in the specialty selection process.
- Advising students in the residency application process.
- Interacting with curriculum committee and advocating for pathology.
- Influencing physicians in other medical specialties to support student engagement in pathology experiences.
- Networking with Pipeline Champions from other institutions.
Pipeline Champions will also engage with the College of American Pathologists (CAP) by participating in CAP-sponsored activities for Pipeline Champions and providing annual feedback on their activities and successes.
What do I gain from being a Pathologist Pipeline Champion?
- Access to resources to facilitate student recruitment
- Opportunities to engage with future junior colleagues
- Broadening of your professional network
- Personal fulfillment from helping medical students make specialty decisions
- Professional recognition for organizational involvement and student mentoring efforts
- Broadening of your CAP activity profile
What support can Pathologist Pipeline Champions expect from the College of American Pathologists?
- Ideas and resources to engage and expose students to pathology
- Access to educational and promotional materials about careers in pathology
- Quarterly interactive events for Pipeline Champions to exchange ideas, including an event at the 2022 CAP annual meeting
- A social media presence for Pipeline Champions
- Annual report summarizing Pipeline Champion activities and successes
1. Robboy SJ, Weintraub S, Horvath AE, et al. Pathologist workforce in the United States: I, development of a predictive model to examine factors influencing supply. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2013;137(12):1723–1732. doi:10.5858/arpa.2013-0200-OA.
2. Program NRM. Results and Data: 2021 Main Residency Match. Washington, DC: National Resident Matching Program; 2021.