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General Pathology

Program Director, Dr. Davinder Sidhu
Program Administrator, Ms. Anna Thomas (403.770.3447)

Davinder Sidhu, MD, FCAP, FRCPC
Diagnostic & Scientific Centre
9, 3535 Research Road NW
Calgary AB T2L 2K8
Phone: 403.944.6626
Fax: 403.770.3292
e-mail: davinder.sidhu@cls.ab.ca

The University of Calgary General Pathology Residency Training Program is the first new General Pathology training program in Canada in a number of years. Through our co-sponsorship with Calgary Laboratory Services, we are able to offer an innovative training environment with an emphasis on laboratory management and pathology informatics.

Calgary Laboratory Services features the only academic General Pathology Division in Canada, currently made up of 14 general pathologists and AP/CP trained pathologists practicing general pathology in an urban academic environment. This provides residents with key teaching and mentorship experience in General Pathology throughout their 5 years of training. Our General Pathology Division group also provides medical leadership to 4 urgent care laboratories in Calgary and surrounding areas as well as 8 rural hospital laboratories in Southern Alberta.

Residents also benefit from our close association with the highly successful University of Calgary Anatomic Pathology Residency Training Program and our large group of approximately 80 pathologists and laboratory scientists.

Three key features of the program are:

1) General Pathology Mentorship Block;

This block consists of 8 weeks at the end of PGY1 and is spent with our academic General Pathology group. Residents receive structured introductions to quality assurance, laboratory management, informatics, laboratory errors, laboratory utilization, conflict resolution, and group dynamics. Although not presented in a structured fashion, the rotation will also introduce residents to the daily workflow of general pathologists and thereby serve as a review of normal hematopathology morphometry, principles of medical biochemistry instrumentation, techniques of microbiological identification, and a further review of normal histology. Importantly, this block will give residents an opportunity to interact extensively with General Pathology faculty and enter into mentorship relationships that will continue throughout their residency training. It is during this block that the resident will be assigned a rural laboratory and will begin interacting with the laboratory staff at that hospital.

2) Community Laboratory Longitudinal Laboratory Management Experience;

Laboratory management is a key aspect of General Pathology training. However programs may struggle to provide residents with adequate opportunities for learning, particularly with hands-on examples of problems. Our goal is to provide residents with an extensive practical management experience through a long term attachment to a rural hospital near Calgary. During the General Pathology Mentorship Block rotation, residents will be assigned to one of the eight rural hospital laboratories managed by Calgary Laboratory Services. Under the mentorship of the Director of Rural Laboratories, this laboratory will then become the responsibility of the resident for their PGY2 to PGY5 years. The resident is expected to familiarize themselves with the test menus of that laboratory and to work with the Director of Rural Laboratories (also a general pathologist) to handle technical and management problems as they arise, and to oversee quality assurance activities. A few minutes will be set aside as part of academic half-days for residents to review any management/quality assurance issues that may have arisen. It is recognized that the ability of residents to interact with their laboratories will vary according to the rotation they are doing. For example, during the core PGY2 surgical pathology rotations, opportunities may be very limited. However, during chemistry and elective rotations, opportunity will exist for more extensive interaction. The resident will also become familiar with the family physicians working in their assigned hospital and by the end of their residency will have become a medical resource to those physicians.

3) Pathology Informatics;

A unique strength of our program is the emphasis on pathology informatics. Our General Pathology Division has several members with active interests in pathology informatics. In 2010, we began offering an elective for laboratory medicine residents in pathology informatics (the only one in Canada). With a catchment population of close to 1.4 million people on a common LIS and 23 million reported tests per year, our training environment offers tremendous opportunities for research.

Program Curriculum

PGY-1

The first year will consist of: 13 block rotations (1 block = 4 weeks)

Rotation Duration
Anatomic pathology 2 blocks
Internal Medicine 2 blocks
Radiology 1 block
General Surgery 1 block
Emergency Medicine 1 block
Pediatrics 1 block
Gyne/Oncology 1 block
Obstetrics/Gynecology 1 block
Medical Oncology 1 block
General Pathology 2 blocks

Curriculum

The General Pathology Residency Program is 5 years in duration (4 years of laboratory Medicine and one basic clinical year). The basic clinical year is designed to provide exposure to most of the medical and surgical services that rely heavily on the pathology laboratory and to prepare the resident for the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part II.

PGY-2

Rotation Duration
Autopsy and Surgical Pathology 13 blocks

PGY-3 to PGY-5

Rotation Duration
Hematopathology 6 blocks
Cytopathology 4 blocks
Pediatric Pathology 1 block
Medical Biochemistry 6 blocks
Medical Microbiology 6 blocks
Forensic Pathology 2 blocks
Surgical Pathology and autopsy pathology rotations 6 blocks
Community hospital rotation 3 months
Elective rotations (additional surgical or clinical pathology rotations, research, etc.) 6 blocks

Research

General pathology residents are expected to complete one research project during their residency, although additional research activity is supported. The general pathology faculty has a strong interest in pathology informatics and so research in this area is especially encouraged.

The University of Calgary and Calgary Laboratory Services cover travel expenses for residents presenting research. Most residents present at our annual residents' research day, with judging and awards provided for by an endowed fund. Residents all attend the Banff Conference in Anatomical Pathology which brings international experts in the field to Banff. Almost all residents attend at least one conference a year to present original research.

A research committee coordinates resident research. The research project may take the form of basic or clinical research. The RTC closely monitors the manpower required for the project to ensure that residents do not take on too many projects. Our department has special funds available for resident research including money earmarked for biostatistical support.

Didactic schedule

Pathology and clinico-pathologic seminars are held weekly on Fridays during our academic half-day. Residents are exempt from work commitments during this period. Residents are also expected to present at clinico-pathologic rounds, held weekly in conjunction with the Department of Internal Medicine. Residents may also participate in medical student teaching at the University of Calgary. Presentations at other rounds (Department of Surgery/Nephrology) are also encouraged.

Evaluation

An in-training evaluation report (ITER) is completed after each rotation. The ITER is reviewed with the resident and emphasis is on continuous constructive feedback for the resident. Starting in the PGY2 year, all residents take two exams a year mimicking the fellowship exam by the RCPSC.

Training Sites

Resources

  • Diagnostic and Scientific Centre (DSC - main laboratory for out-patient specimens)
  • Foothills Medical Centre (FMC)
  • Alberta Children's Hospital (ACH)
  • Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC)
  • Rockyview General Hospital (RGH)
  • Medical Examiner's Office (MEO)
  • 12 additional community/rural laboratories provide extensive opportunity for management training
  • Community hospital rotations are taken at Red Deer General Hospital in Red Deer, AB