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Medical Education
Medical Student Education

Career Information: Laboratory Medicine

Specialty: Laboratory Medicine

Completed by: Diana Nicoll

Date completed/updated: March 2014

  1. What can students do in the 1st and 2nd years to explore and/or prepare for this career?
    Identify mentor (in research if applicable). Focus on mechanisms of disease, hematology, infectious disease, and endocrinology issues.
  2. What common variations exist in the length/content of residency programs for this career?
    Single certification in Clinical Pathology  (Laboratory Medicine): 36 months required – 24 months for rotations needed in hematology, transfusion medicine, microbiology, chemistry, molecular medicine, immunology and lab management and 12 months of flexible training or research.

    Double certification in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology:18 months of the clinical pathology rotations, 18 months of anatomic pathology and 12 months of flexible training or research.
  3. What common variations exist in this career after training?
    Academia with specialization clinically in transfusion medicine, hematology, chemistry, micro biology, immunology, or molecular medicine; teaching; laboratory management, with or without research. Private practice (commercial clinical labs). Private practice pathology (requires anatomic pathology [surgical pathology]). Biotech.
  4. What is a typical workday for someone in this career?
    Overseeing lab quality control, consulting with clinicians, investigating new tests, signing out test results (e.g. bone marrow), teaching residents, ensuring compliance with laboratory regulatory agencies, research
  5. What is the culture of this career?
    Generation of information for clinical use. Development of new diagnostic tests. Critical analysis of medical literature. General scientific inquiry. Research.
  6. How compatible is this with raising a family? How is this different for men and women?
    Very compatible for both sexes
  7. What are the most important quality or characteristic traits for a person in this field?
    Interest in quantitation, analytics, mechanisms of disease, clinical consultation and research.
  8. How competitive are the residency programs in this field?
    Not competitive nationally
  9. How competitive is the job market after residency?
    Job market favorable
  10. What programs have been popular within the UCSF applicants or how should applicants go about considering programs?
    UCSF, Stanford, Washington U ( St. Louis), Yale, Harvard (MGH, Brigham and Women’s). Visit the programs.
  11. What resources (e.g., websites, books, professional groups) would you recommend for students interested in learning more about this field?
    UCSF Pathology and Laboratory Medicine website:
    Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, Lange, Nicoll et al 6th edition
    American Society of Clinical Pathology website:
    College of American Pathologists website:
    Intersociety Council of Pathology Information website:
  12. How important are each of the following for admission to a competitive program?

Very Important

Somewhat Important

Not Important

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Honors in third year