Frequently Asked Questions

What fellowships are available at Iowa? There are fellowships available in surgical pathology, cytopathology, hematopathology, microbiology, transfusion medicine, and molecular pathology. A neuropathology fellowship has been approved and applications are being accepted. 

What type of call do residents take? First year residents take surgical pathology call starting on their second surgical pathology rotation. Second, third and fourth-year residents take surgical pathology call (on surgical pathology rotations), clinical pathology (CP) call and anatomic pathology/clinical pathology (AP/CP) call on the weekends.

Clinical pathology call (Monday through Thursday) consists of at-home-call every ten to twelve days. The resident can expect to receive questions and problems from any of CP services. For example, residents may be called to approve or deny requests for tests that are usually only done during the day or requests for platelets when the blood bank platelet stock is low. These types of calls often require the resident to contact the requesting physician and decide whether the request is justifiable or if another test or blood product would be more helpful. Rarely, residents on call must come into the hospital for emergent transfusion medicine therapeutic procedures.

AP/CP call is covered on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday by one resident each day. It consists of all those duties explained under CP call as well as weekend frozen section coverage (with faculty back up), checking the gross room for specimens, and consulting with clinical services on the weekend.

How is vacation time handled? Residents have 15 weekday vacation days per year. For most rotations it is fairly easy to take time off and many rotations do not require cross coverage. Residents may take time off on any rotation as long as appropriate coverage is obtained. Residents also have up to a week of educational time per year that can be utilized for attending meetings.

What about fringe benefits such as book/travel funds? Each resident is given $850/year for books/journals/memberships, etc. Unused funds carry over to the next year. On top of the annual book fund, each resident is also provided with a $600 technology stipend by the pathology department to enhance their study and learning at the start of residency. Travel to national conferences is paid for by the department for residents presenting abstracts. Travel to national meetings for pathology organizations that residents are involved with is also covered. Furthermore, during the residency training, the department will sponsor each resident to attend one national conference regardless of whether an abstract is presented (one "free" meeting).

How do residents interact with the surgical pathology fellows? In other words will I simply be a "meat cutter" for the fellows? No! The fellow on the preliminary diagnosis service ("hot seat") essentially works separately from the residents, and the fellows covering the gross room primarily perform frozen section diagnosis and instruct residents on how to handle specimens. The other fellows cover consult cases and work directly with faculty. Surgical pathology at Iowa is extremely resident-friendly.

There are no pathology externs at my medical school. What is their role? Externs are medical students who, toward the end of their second or third year, take a year away from their traditional medical school curriculum and work in the pathology department in surgical pathology and autopsy. They function basically as a resident, except that they do not take call. Externs typically start in July and finish in June.

Do residents interact with visiting professors? In addition to interacting with visiting professors invited by the faculty, each year the pathology residents invite a prominent pathologist to campus. Typically this visiting professor will have several microscope sessions or other meetings with the residents and will give grand rounds. This is an excellent opportunity to not only learn in-depth about a specific area in diagnostic pathology, but also to get to know well-known pathologists from around the country.

How well do Iowa residents fare in finding jobs after training? The established reputation of excellence in training at the University of Iowa, combined with the recent trend of increasing demand and aging of current pathologists, has meant a tremendous opportunity for residents from our program. All departing residents in recent years have had no difficulty getting multiple offers for desirable positions in both academic and private settings.