Engaging Pathology Residents in Clinical Chemistry: The Essential Ingredient Is a Committed Teacher

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BACKGROUND: Pathology residents are thought to show a lack of interest in clinical chemistry, therefore potentially graduating from training programs unprepared to function as laboratory directors and clinical consultants. METHODS: A structured program of tutorials based primarily on Henry's textbook, supplemented by recent review articles; a question bank of about 600 questions to emphasize key concepts; requirement for performing and presenting quality improvement projects; participation in on-site CAP inspections; review of reference laboratory test requests; and involving residents in scholarly activity have resulted in sustained, transferable, and significant improvements in engagement, knowledge, competence, and examination scores. RESULTS: The primary parameter for measuring change in resident competence and engagement were improvements in resident in-service examination (RISE) scores, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and receipt of awards. The revised program produced significant improvement in RISE scores in clinical chemistry, over and above the improvements in the general residency program. The residents were authors on 12 publications in peer-reviewed PubMed listed journals in the 5-year period since revision in the clinical chemistry curriculum compared to no publications in clinical chemistry in the 5-year period before the new curriculum. Over the past 2 years, 6 of the 11 publications by graduating residents were in clinical chemistry, and 6 of 7 awards for research were garnered by residents engaged in clinical chemistry investigations. All of the residents passed their clinical pathology boards on first attempt since the change compared to 2 failures in the prior 5-year period. CONCLUSIONS: The structured program described here is important as a template that could be adopted by any pathology training program. The question bank developed by this program is a valuable and transferable aid. However, success of such a program is dependent on the commitment of a knowledgeable, dedicated, and passionate teacher.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-531
Number of pages10
JournalThe journal of applied laboratory medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • RISE scores
  • Socratic method
  • clinical chemistry
  • extramural awards
  • scholarly activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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