Welcome to the Pathology Program

From the Chief Resident

Welcome to our pathology residency program at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine! We are a fairly small program which averages two residents per year. This enables us to develop a strong work ethic and solid relationships with the residents, attendings, and ancillary staff all working closely together. Our attendings have an open-door policy and make our learning a pleasurable experience.

We see approximately 50,000 surgical cases a year with a wide variety of specimens including head and neck, breast, gastrointestinal, liver, genitourinary, gynecologic, dermatopathology, hematopathology, and cytopathology. We are a reference center for many of the small surrounding communities, which leads to an even greater range of cases.

The pathology department is dynamic, and we are always seeking to improve the quality of each resident’s learning experience. In the past, the program has added more focused clinical pathology rotations including blood bank, microbiology, chemistry, and molecular pathology. Residents’ special interests are encouraged, and specialized rotations based on those interests can be developed. Over my years as a resident, I have witnessed this program continue to develop and improve an already impressive learning environment.

I find not having fellowships at our program to be advantageous.  As residents, we are able to present at multidisciplinary conferences including breast/gynecologic, lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, hematopathology, head and neck, and general tumor board.  Moreover, we have a “hot seat” rotation, which is similar to a surgical pathology fellowship rotation. This rotation provides extensive exposure to frozen sections and complex surgical cases and develops communication and multi-tasking skills.  Ultimately, the training provided will prepare you well for your job beyond residency.

Our residents have an impressive track record of continuing their education in competitive fellowships. Recent residents have been accepted into surgical pathology, cytopathology, hematopathology, dermatopathology, and forensic pathology fellowship programs throughout the country.

Our didactics consist of faculty lectures, microscope sessions, and board review lectures. One of the more recent additions is a “boot camp”, especially geared toward our first-year residents, which covers more basic normal and abnormal histopathology and provides a nice foundation. It is such a useful exercise that all of the residents make time to attend and have found it to be beneficial.

In addition to the basic core teaching, we have ample opportunities for case report studies and research projects. The program covers the expense of attending national meetings if a resident has an accepted poster or presentation. The program also provides (capped) coverage to attend one national meeting over the 4-year training period for which a resident does not have a poster or abstract to present.

We have an annual education fund to use on books, electronics, or Step 3/Level 3 examination fees. We also have an extensive library which can be accessed online. The GME office organizes multiple social events for all the residency programs throughout the year. One event that the department looks forward to is the Residency Bowl, a trivia game among the different residency programs, that allows us to compete and earn extra education funds. Our program often makes it to the finals, and we have even won the championship!

Our resident group has a good sense of camaraderie. As a small program, we value a team-orientated attitude, which we feel fosters a healthy and enjoyable learning environment. I have greatly enjoyed my experiences here and hope that you will as well.

Karah White, M.D.