Second annual Surgical Pathology conference offers full LMP experience



On the last weekend of January, Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP) Pathologists’ Assistants (PA) held the second annual Surgical Pathology Education Day at UHN, offering students and lab professionals a unique mix of conference style lectures and in-lab presentations.

The event was a major success, with over 100 showing up to participate, and it once again set the bar high for future PA conferences.

Lead organizer and LMP PA, Martin Grealish shares more on why he’s developed the conference and what delegates can expect in the future in this five question Q&A.


  1. What is Surgical Pathology education day?

Within the PA industry we often find challenges in identifying subject specific continuing education. There are a few PA specific annual conferences put on by the Canadian and Ontario Associations of Pathologists, but with them being spread across the country or province – we saw an opportunity to organize something locally. It’s now our second year hosting the event and we basically bring together local PAs, MLTs (medical laboratory technologist) and really anybody interested in surgical pathology to hear and learn from industry professionals and receive meaningful continuing education credits.


  1. What does the day entail?

We hold lectures for the first part of the day, and really try to include something for everyone. This year we had:

  • “Training, Competency and Continuing Education”                                                                         – Sarah James, Senior PA, UHN, and Alan Wolff, Supervisor, Pathology, Lakeridge Health
  • “Radiation Safety Considerations for Radioactive Specimens in Pathology”                            – Gina Capone, Senior Radiation Safety Specialist, UHN
  • “Gastrointestinal Surgery”                                                                                                                         – Dr. Fayez Quereshy, GI staff Surgeon, UHN
  • “Grossing Gastrointestinal Specimens”                                                                                                – Colin Elliot and Will Tsui, PAs, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • “Telepathology and the Importance of the Technologist”                                                              – Dr. Andrew Evans, Genitourinary staff Pathologist, UHN

One area that really garnered interest was having a GI (gastrointestinal) surgery presentation followed by a GI grossing presentation. As PAs we receive colon and GI surgical specimens every day, so it was really interesting having Dr. Quereshy share what happens in the peripheral stages of our work. Then having the grossing lecture afterwards just made for a great continuation, and some interesting back and forth discussion.


Another thing we really focus on is fulfilling the continuing education needs of our audience. With a lot of institutions and certification bodies requiring a safety component as part of their annual continuing education requirements, it was important for us to fold in at least one safety lecture, and Gina’s radioactive specimen presentation fit perfectly.

The second part of the day was dedicated to in-lab workshops, which were held concurrently with groups rotating every 30 minutes.

  • “Paediatric Gastrointestinal Pathology”                                                                                                – Sue Cromwell, Senior PA, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • “Genitourinary Pathology”                                                                                                                         – Martin Grealish, PA, UHN
  • “Sarcoma Pathology”                                                                                                                                    – Colin Elliot, Nadia Saito and Will Tsui, PAs, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • “Telepathology”                                                                                                                                             – Zoya Volynskaya, UHN
  • “Paediatric Cardiac Pathology”                                                                                                                 – Konstantin Krutikov, PA, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • “Round table scenario and grossing discussion”                                                                                – Sarah James, Senior PA, UHN, and Alan Wolff, Supervisor, Pathology, Lakeridge Health

This is definitely what differentiates us from other conferences. Getting to come right into the labs and view surgical pathology specimens up close is a rare opportunity for non PAs and is a huge draw for delegates. It also allows the conference to become more personal and get attendees more engaged, as the workshop groups averaged at just 15 people per session.


  1. What type of feedback have you received?

So we had 103 people attend including delegates, speakers, and volunteers and in our feedback survey we received an 89 per cent in terms of satisfaction. That number’s based on a five point scale of quality and means we were marked with either fours or fives from all attendees that completed the survey.

Overall, I think it was a major success, and our attendees, who came from as far as London to Oshawa and Niagara to Sault Ste. Marie all left satisfied.


  1. This is the second year you’ve hosted the conference – how did this year compare to the first?

Well, we had more people this time around – which was great. Having only four workshops was a limiting factor for us last year, so by adding two we were immediately able to increase capacity by 50 per cent. We also had more volunteers and higher satisfaction in our feedback survey.

The structure of the day was a similar format to last year which I think works well and is well received. Also like the first year, we had great involvement from other institutions, including Lakeridge Health, Michener, Mount Sinai and SickKids. And though we’re not official partners with each organization, on the greater scale of healthcare and Toronto hospitals – we’re all colleagues and need to support each other.  There is lots of skill and talent at each of our organizations and this works as a great platform to show that off.


  1. What would you say to people thinking of attending next year’s conference?

I would say, please join us for our next event. The topics are interesting. The speakers are engaging. Attendees are consistently satisfied. Our format is unique and there are very few opportunities to attend the kind of specimen workshops we provide. It is a fun way to get continuing education hours and a great way to network within the local Laboratory Medicine and Surgical Pathology community.



The second annual Surgical Pathology Education Day was sponsored by:
ESBE Scientific and Huron Digital Pathology

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