General Information

Goals and Objectives of the Pathology Residency Program at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center


The Pathology Residency Program is an integral part of the Department of Pathology and plays an important role in the academic and clinical life of the medical center. During their training at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, residents build their knowledge and experience in the various disciplines of anatomic pathology, clinical pathology and experimental pathology. Our faculty members are strongly committed to the education of residents. They serve as instructors and mentors across the broad range of experiential and didactic educational activities offered by the department. Learning on rotations is supplemented by a core curriculum of didactic lectures spanning all sub-specialties of anatomic and clinical pathology. A rich and diverse array of departmental and interdisciplinary conferences allows residents to refine their diagnostic skills, gain exposure to rare and unusual cases, and contribute to patient evaluation and management.

As a pathologist, you will have the opportunity to be a clinical specialist as well as a basic scientist. The skills and knowledge you acquire during your residency will prepare you to function as an expert in providing diagnostic and prognostic information. The discipline of Pathology is a link to other basic medical sciences. For those interested in pursuing biomedical research there are opportunities to train with members of our Division of Experimental Pathology as well as with other faculty members involved in basic or clinical research. Our residency program is designed to prepare you for the ever-changing world of laboratory medicine. Educational opportunities in cytogenetics, molecular diagnostics, and laboratory management are all part of the residency experience.

A mentoring program allows each resident the opportunity to select a faculty member for one-on-one career guidance and professional development. Many of us were attracted to the field of pathology by the broad range of opportunities including clinical practice, medical education, research, and laboratory administration. Our faculty is trained and experienced in these diverse subspecialties, and we stand ready to help you meet your goals.

The laboratory facilities at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are exceptional. Our modern full service laboratories are well equipped and designed to meet the needs of our tertiary care facility. Departmental and institutional libraries include a large selection of electronic journals and print journals and books. Resident offices provide an opportunity for sharing knowledge in a comfortable, private area with adequate space for each individual. In summary, we believe that our environment for pathology training is outstanding and one that will prepare our trainees well for the opportunities that their futures will offer them.


Pathologists' activities encompass several broad categories:

  1. Providing direct patient care by contributing to diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of a variety of samples.
  2. Medical and scientific direction of clinical laboratories with responsibility for providing high quality laboratory data in a cost-effective and timely fashion.
  3. Teaching students, residents, physicians, and paramedical personnel about pathologic evaluation of disease and the applications of laboratory medicine to patient care.
  4. Developing new knowledge about the pathogenesis of disease and its classification and prognostic evaluation.
A career in Pathology can be dedicated to one or more of these focuses, in an academic, private practice, or commercial laboratory setting. The objective of this residency in Pathology is to provide opportunities for each resident to gain personal, participatory experience in the various skills needed to achieve success in their professional careers. To that end, the program is designed to provide the following:
  1. A setting that is conducive to self-study and learning-by-doing.
  2. Training and personal experience in a variety of skills necessary to obtain diagnostic and prognostic information from patient samples.
  3. Guidance in developing the skills of critical and analytic thinking necessary for proper interpretation of patient or research data.
  4. Guidance in perfecting the skills of communicating information about disease, both oral and written.
To achieve these objectives, the resident and attending staff must work together with mutually understood expectations and commitments. In general, the resident is expected to do the following:
  1. Enthusiastically perform the assigned clinical services.
  2. Read extensively about the diseases encountered.
  3. Acquire understanding and experience with the technical and mechanical aspects of the laboratory.
  4. Develop the skills required to communicate information about pathology.
  5. Gain experience in the skills required for problem solving and for interpretation of data.
  6. Gain experience in laboratory management and quality improvement.
  7. Assume a role in the education of colleagues.
Likewise, members of the faculty of the Department of Pathology are expected to do the following:
  1. Help each resident define career and educational objectives.
  2. Evaluate each resident's progress, using subjective and objective means of evaluation, and communicate the results of those evaluations to each resident on a timely basis.
  3. Delegate to each resident gradually increasing levels of responsibility, based on the resident's experience and progress in the training program.
  4. Communicate to residents their enthusiasm for their own area of research and provide opportunity for participation by interested residents.
  5. Provide personal instruction to residents as appropriate for their subspecialty focus.
  6. Participate on a regular basis in conferences that are intended primarily for the education of pathology residents.
  7. Provide personal instruction in laboratory management and administration, and in use of computers in the laboratory.
  8. Nurture an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.


The particular requirements for pathologists in practice will continue to change, so the content of the training program must keep pace with trends in the profession. In light of this, the Department engages in an annual review of the residency program with a goal of optimizing the educational programming and resources. This review includes a discussion of recent national trends and consideration of future directions of growth for the program. Recent initiatives include expansion of the elective offerings to include a private practice elective in anatomic pathology and an orthopedic pathology elective. A new Clinical Pathology Consult rotation and a rotation in Coagulation have been added. Cytogenetics training has been expanded. We believe that these changes have benefitted our residents and and will help make them most competitive in their search for the ideal fellowship or job at the completion of their residency.

By the completion of residency, trainees are expected to achieve competence in the six core competencies defined by the ACGME:
  1. Patient Care: residents must be able to provide patient care that is compassionate, appropriate, and effective; and, is able to work effectively with other health care professionals.
  2. Medical Knowledge: residents must be able to demonstrate the application of knowledge to patient care and to pathology, as well as an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical and pathological situations.
  3. Practice-Based Learning and Improvement: residents must be able to investigate and evaluate their diagnostic and consulting practices, appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and improve their patient care practices; apply knowledge of study design and statistical methods; use information technology; and, facilitate the learning of students and other health care professionals.
  4. Interpersonal and Communication Skills: residents must be able to demonstrate effective interpersonal and communication skills.
  5. Professionalism: residents must demonstrate a commitment of carrying out professional responsibilities, adherence to ethical principles, and sensitivity to a diverse patient population.
  6. Systems-Based Practice: residents must demonstrate an awareness of the larger context and system of health care, understand how pathology services and professional practices affect other health care professionals and organizations, and understand principles underlying cost-effective health care and resource allocation.

The six core competencies form the basis for the objectives in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology rotations, and in each of the specific rotations, residents are evaluated on these competencies.