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Residency FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Pathology Residency Program at the University of Utah

Is the residency program accredited by the ACGME?

Yes, we are fully accredited by the ACGME for a total of 20 residents. The program was established in 1960 and has a long stable history of training outstanding residents in both anatomic and clinical pathology. 

How many positions are there in your program?

We accept approximately four in the AP/CP track and one in either an AP-only, CP-only, AP/NP, or Physician Scientist track each year.  There is some variability from year-to-year depending on the current resident complement and distribution of their tracks of training.

Do you have a cut off for USMLE and COMLEX  scores?

You must have passed the USMLE or COMLEX exams on the first attempt (candidates successful only after repeated attempts are less likely to be considered).  Candidates who match with the University of Utah residency program must successfully pass USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS or COMLEX Level 1, Level 2-CE, and Level 2-PE before they begin their residencies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, administration of Step 2 CS has been temporarily suspended (until at least June 1, 2021) and COMLEX Level 2-PE has also been temporarily suspended (until at least November 1, 2020).  The program recognizes that this will impact individuals applying for residency in 2020-2021 and will make the necessary modifications. 

Do you consider year of graduation from medical school?

We require applicants to have graduated from medical school within the last four years.

Do you sponsor visas?

Questions regarding visas can be answered by the Office of Graduate Medical Education at phone 801-581-2401 or email

When do you start reviewing applications? When will I be notified if I am selected for an interview?

We only accept applications through ERAS and for applicants registered for the NRMP match. The program director begins reviewing complete applications as soon as they are available to programs in ERAS (September 15 most years but delayed to October 21, 2020 for the 2021 match).  Interview invitations begin to be extended soon after the ERAS opening date and interviews may continue to be offered until approximately late November or early December in most application cycles.  After an applicant is selected for an interview, program coordinator invites the candidate via the ERAS Scheduler. ERAS messages from applicants are monitored frequently and we strive to make the scheduling and communication process as seamless as possible.  We receive a large number of applications from well-qualified candidates but are only able to offer interviews to a subset of candidates. 

What should I expect on my interview day?

Interviews will be conducted virtually for the 2021 NRMP match.  In order to mitigate risks of COVID-19, lessen the burden of travel during the pandemic, and maintain a fair and level playing field for all applicants, the University of Utah Health Graduate Medical Education policy requires virtual interviews for applicants in the 2020-2021 academic year.  We understand that this poses significant challenges for applicants striving to learn about our program and we are actively working on ways to help applicants get to know our program and working environment in this novel format. 

Interviews for the 2021 NRMP match will be conducted from approximately November 1, 2020 through December 18, 2020 utilizing a secure Zoom platform.  Interviewees will be required to have a quiet interview space, stable internet connection, ability to log onto Zoom, and webcam to facilitate optimal interpersonal interactions.  The interview itinerary will include one-on-one meetings with the Program Director, one of our Associate Program Directors, two additional program faculty, a group interview with the Department Chair, a group meeting with several of our residents, and adequate breaks for transitions.  Interviewees should plan to spend 3-4 hours in virtual meetings on their interview date.  The program will also provide other materials to highlight our department facilities and the Salt Lake City area to help candidates get a feel for our learning and working environment.  Candidates selected for an interview will also be provided with an optional opportunity to attend one of several planned afternoon or evening Q&A sessions with a group of our residents that will be held separately from the official interview day.  We look forward to meeting our applicants virtually and are enthusiastic about the upcoming interview season.  

How many months of electives do residents get?

We strive to provide excellent structured AP and CP training that develops competency and meets all requirements for board certification while also maintaining generous elective time to help residents tailor their training to specific areas of interest and prepare for fellowship. Residents in the AP/CP combined program have 6 months of electives, and residents in the CP-only or AP-only programs have 10 months of electives.

What research opportunities do residents have?

Many research opportunities are available covering a wide range of areas from basic science to clinical and translational research. Though not required, all residents are encouraged to pursue research projects as part of their training. AP/CP residents may choose to do one or more months of research elective rotations, allowing them to spend more focused time on a research project. Residents in the AP-Only or CP-Only tracks may choose to spend up to 6 months on research elective rotations, depending on their career trajectory.  In 2016, we formalized the American Board of Pathology's Physician Scientist track, which allows for an additional department funded research year for resident’s that match to this track. The department offers internal grants to support resident research, generously covers travel expenses for residents to present research findings at national meetings, and holds an annual Resident Research Grand Rounds to showcase resident research activities.  Find more information on research opportunities. Recent publications by our Pathology Residents can be sen here

Do residents receive money for books or travel?

Yes. Residents in their PGY-1 year receive a selection of foundational pathology text books as well as $500 towards additional books or educational travel expenses.  Residents in their PGY-2 year and beyond receive $1,000 toward books and travel. In addition, residents who present research or who are a delegate to a national organization receive funds from the department to cover the costs of airfare, hotel, conference registration, and per diem to attend a national conference. The funding for research-related travel is separate (in addition to) the regular resident book and travel fund of $1000/year for PGY-2 to PGY-4. 

How many cases do the residents participate in?

The following annual volumes represent our primary residency training sites.

Autopsies:  200

FNA's: 2,500

GYN + non-GYN cytology: 40,000

Surgical pathology cases: 30,000

Bone marrows: 1,900

Clinical laboratory tests: 25 million

Call

Pathology residents take at-home call.  While a significant number of calls can be handled via phone from the resident’s home, some call responsibilities require the resident to be physically present on-site (see below).  Residents cover call on evenings (5 pm to 8 am), weekends, and holidays for anatomic (AP) and clinical pathology (CP) during their PGY-2 to PGY-4 years of training.  Junior residents often cover either AP or CP, while more senior residents, with the exception of AP-Only and CP-Only residents, may cover both services on a single day.  Residents receive extensive training from the current chief residents prior to taking call for the first time and on-call faculty members are always available to assist the on-call resident.  In some cases, on-call fellows are also available.  The program maintains a comprehensive resident handbook with on-call policies and procedures and holds regular AP and CP call conferences to review call-related issues and initiate process improvements as part of the resident didactic schedule.  Residents are generally assigned to two or three day blocks of call (Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Friday through Sunday). If a holiday falls on a Monday then this is included in the weekend on-call block (Friday through Monday). Residents are not scheduled on consecutive blocks.  Call coverage is graduated and more junior residents take more call than senior residents.  For instance, PGY-2 residents cover approximately 8 weeks of call per year, while PGY-3 and PGY-4 residents cover approximately 7 weeks and 5 weeks annually, respectively.

AP call primarily includes coverage of frozen sections at Huntsman Cancer Hospital (HCH) and Primary Children’s Hospital (PCH), handling and coordination of stat specimens, and review of body fluid slides.  Additional weekend duties include some grossing responsibilities at HCI and PCH. 

CP call responsibilities include handling transfusion medicine and clinical pathology/laboratory questions for University Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Hospital, ARUP Laboratories, and Primary Children’s Hospital.  Most CP questions can be handled over the phone, although residents may be called in to review stat peripheral smear or bone marrow cases. 

Residents on the infectious disease rotation take one week of 24/7 call per month of the rotation. This is at-home call.

What is the conference schedule?

Residents have required morning conference from 8 to 9 am every day. Find more information on the Conferences page.

What are Assistant Medical Directorships?

Assistant Medical Directorships (AMDs) are 1-year longitudinal moonlighting opportunities that our department provides for residents (typically PGY-3 or PGY-4) to gain additional in-depth experience in an area of interest.  AMDs are available in both AP and CP disciplines and typically have a focus on laboratory management, quality/safety programs, or development of educational resources.  Potential AMDs areas include:

  • Anatomic pathology quality assurance
  • Assistant Editor for ARUP Consult educational resource
  • Automated core laboratory
  • Digital pathology
  • Educational scholarship
  • Endocrinology
  • Flow cytometry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Informatics
  • Slide photographer
  • Transfusion services 

Does the program have a formal mentorship program?

Yes, we have a formal mentoring program where each new resident is matched with two faculty members and 2-3 co-residents as their initial mentors.  This is very beneficial to facilitate relationships within the department and to help new residents acclimate to life at the University of Utah.  As residents progress in their training, they will also form mentoring relationships related to areas of interest and our faculty are excellent mentors for residents as they consider fellowship interests and in future job searches. 

Are the residents involved in teaching?

Yes, our residents have many teaching opportunities available to them.  Residents are involved in teaching University of Utah medical students during their organ systems-based pathology laboratory sessions.  Residents also play a very important role in teaching and mentoring medical students and residents from other specialties who rotate in pathology (we currently offer elective rotations in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, neuropathology, pediatric pathology, and forensic pathology through our school of medicine).  In addition, residents frequently provide education to laboratory technologists as part of their rotation responsibilities.  Residents with a particular interest in education may work with pathologists to develop curriculum or other pathology learning materials.  We also offer an Assistant Medical Directorship (see AMD FAQ above) in Educational Scholarship where a resident can spend time learning basic principles of educational theory, techniques, and scholarship and apply their knowledge in the creation of a resident-led educational project. 

Are the residents involved in quality improvement initiatives?

Our residents are actively involved in our quality programs.  During residency, each resident completes at least one quality improvement project.  Examples of recent projects include development and validation of a computerized differential tool for use in hematopathology, development of grossing templates for use in surgical pathology, improvement of processes for calling critical values, and development of a formal resident call manual to catalogue common issues and solutions encountered while on call.  Many of our Assistant Medical Directorships (see AMD FAQ above) have a quality focus.  In addition, residents are involved in our department accreditation process through the College of American Pathologists and have the opportunity to complete inspector training and participate in the laboratory inspection process.  In addition, University of Utah Health has been ranked in the nation’s top 10 for quality healthcare among leading academic medical centers for ten years running and received the No. 1 ranking in 2010, 2016, and 2020.  There is a prominent institutional focus on quality and patient safety, and residents have the opportunity to collaborate in initiatives and projects outside of our department. 

What leadership opportunities are available for residents?

Ample opportunities for leadership development are available in our residency program.  The program selects two Chief Residents annually who play an integral role in program leadership.  Other leadership positions include a Resident Wellness Champion, Resident Social Chair, and delegates to the College of American Pathologists Resident Forum.  Abundant opportunities for development of leadership skills are also available through the University of Utah School of Medicine and ARUP Laboratories.