Cytopathology fellowship paving new paths for future learners

Cytopathology is an area in lab medicine that is on its way to paving new paths for future fellows! UHN has seen an increase in demand for specialist cytopathology expertise and, together with the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, is approaching the sixth iteration of a one year Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada-accredited fellowship aiming to fill the gap where informal training was the norm in Canada.

“Because cytopathology is not really an organ specific specialty, it has always just been practiced “on the side” by pathologists with different levels of expertise”, says Dr. Schwock. Dr. Schwock was the first person to complete the fellowship at the University of Toronto and currently helps run the program with Dr. Boerner and Dr. Ghorab as site-directors at UHN and Sunnybrook, respectively. “If someone wanted specific training in cytopathology they would have to go to the US”, says Dr. Schwock who is a member of the RCPSC specialty committee who’s goal it is to expand and improve Cytopathology training programs across Canada.

Another challenge for us is to inform pathology residents about the fellowship program and educate them on its importance. “Because our program is still in its infancy, it’s not well known. In addition, the value of cytopathology for patient care may not always be obvious”, says Dr. Schwock. Dr Boerner agrees, “clinicians generally don’t care if the report starts with a C for cytopathology or a S for surgical pathology. It is the accurate diagnosis that counts”, he adds.

Faculty members both at UHN and Sunnybrook hope to get the word out about the program and advocate for the importance of specialized cytopathology expertise within the medical field.

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