Frequently Asked Questions by MS1 and MS2 Students

Exposure to the field and creating positive relationships with pathologists are very important.  Doing an elective in Pathology, shadowing pathologists and what are called “observational experiences”, viewing the websites of the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the College of American Pathologists, and participating in a Pathology Interest Group all our helpful.

Learn more about the American Society for Clinical Pathology website here

Learn more about the College of American Pathologists website here

Research is valuable to enhance one’s application.  This can be in the form of a poster, oral presentation, or publication.  Matched applicants in Pathology typically average 3-5 of these research activities.

Research opportunities can be accessed through academic pathologists who are involved with the medical school.  In addition, the Scholarly Project office may have ideas and a list of pathologists who would like medical students to be involved with their research.  UACOMP has a very active pathologist who works with medical students, including with research projects.

Both volunteering and extracurricular activities, such as student government and clubs have many benefits, but the Step I score and the Block grades are most important.  Most matched applicants do have some volunteering and extracurricular activity participation.

Recent NRMP data suggest Step I scores of approximately 233, and Step II scores approximately 243 for students who match into Pathology.

Frequently Asked Questions by MS3 and MS4 Students

Letters should be requested in the summer before the mid-September ERAS application deadline.  It is preferable to request a letter soon after the applicant has worked with the faculty member, as the applicant’s work habits and skills will be fresh in their mind.

Three letters are required, and a fourth letter is recommended.

Yes, typically 1-2 letters are obtained from a pathologist.   A letter from the applicant’s Sub I is suggested, as well as from a faculty member with whom the applicant has done research.

No, not for Pathology.  A similar question is whether a letter from a renown pathologist is beneficial.  However, if the Chairman of Pathology and/or a renown pathologist knows the applicant well, a letter from these pathologists can be very helpful.

Not necessarily.  However, if the applicant knows that he or she would like to match into a specific Pathology program, then an away rotation can be extremely beneficial, especially if the applicant does very well during that rotation.

Specialty specific information for Pathology:

Pathology is a fascinating field of study combining molecular, anatomic and diagnostic medicine.  Pathology is one of the first fields to embrace machine learning, bioinformatics and precision medicine – specialization in pathology allows a physician to be at the cutting edge of the intersection of laboratory and clinical medicine.  Pathology residency programs typically include rotations in clinical, surgical and autopsy pathology. 

Pathology is typically a four year categorical program with no requirement for a preliminary year.  Programs may offer one of several paths – most residents select the four year combined anatomic and clinical pathology residency track (AP/CP).  There is also an option for a four year combined anatomic and neuropathology track (AP/NP), or three years of anatomic (AP) or clinical track only (CP).  Further fellowship and sub specializing is available in the areas of:


Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine                                            Chemical Pathology
Clinical Informatics                                                                          Cytopathology
Dermatopathology                                                                           Forensic Pathology
Hematopathology                                                                            Medical Microbiology
Molecular Genetic Pathology                                                          Neuropathology
Pediatric Pathology                                                                          Selective Pathology


Additional resources:

The American Society for Clinical Pathology offers a medical student membership and resources:

As does the College of American Pathologists:

Recent article written by one of our own U of A COM-P students, Savannah McMahon MD