Class typically starts around 9. Our two lecture based classes are mechanisms of disease (MOD) and advanced surgical pathology techniques. In MOD we learn about the pathogenesis of the disease, how it correlates to our previous knowledge of normal anatomy, histological features, embryological development and physiology. In surg path, we learn about how a specimen would grossly present, why we would receive the specimen as a PA and how to gross it. One of the really helpful things about our course load is that the block that we’re in for MOD is aligned with whatever we are doing in surg path, so it really feels like one fluent course rather than 2 different ones. While the lecture material can be really dense and there are a lot of slides to cover, Sarah and Natalie keep their lectures interesting and engaging. We are typically out of class by noon. At Tulane they really stress the importance of having a balance. This is nice because it gives us time to explore everything there is to do in New Orleans. It definitely requires us to be good at time management, because with the amount of material we go through a day it is so easy to fall behind.
One day during the week, we have a surg path lab. In lab we get to physically gross a specimen that we are learning about. The hands on learning makes connecting everything that we are discussing so much easier. So far we have grossed a heart, a pneumectomy, a lung wedge and most recently a larynx! When we grossed our lung specimens we were assigned a specific lung pathology and we had to decide how it would present grossly, where it would be found within the specimen and what pertinent sections to take would be. Having to critically think about what a pneumonectomy with adenocarcinoma would look like really helps to solidify our knowledge.
Typically on Fridays we have a seminar class. Seminar is a discussion based class. This class involves discussions and assignments that force you to consider things you’ve maybe never thought about and facilitate really important conversations. We read When Breath Becomes Air and had a few medical ethics based discussions related to the book. We’ve also attended Grand Rounds related to autopsy findings. As future pathologists’ assistants, it important to be well rounded!
The other course that we are taking is surg path/autopsy practicum. We get to be in the gross room for 2 hours a week for the semester. Being able to get into the gross room during didactic year is such a unique opportunity. It gives us the hands on learning but we are also able to see the flow of the gross room, sit in sign out and look at slides, and practice using a dictation system. For the summer semester we each had 4 rotations. In my 4, I’ve gotten to use the Stryker saw on a bone specimen, sit at sign out, be a part of 2 interesting autopsy cases and gross some biopsies/small specimens.
Our classes are all just the 12 of us, (except for surg path which has 3 first year residents) so we’ve all become really close. When we aren’t in class or studying, we’re usually together, hanging by the pool, trying out some of the food in New Orleans (eating ice cream at creole creamery) or on a roof top.
Recently we started talking about clinical rotations next year, and while I could not be more excited to start clinicals, the reality is that it will be bitter sweet because we will all be in different cities next year. This year has flown by and it is so crazy to think about the amount of knowledge we’ve gained in just 7 months.