General Information

Departmental Policies

Vacation and Continuing Medical Education (CME)

The American Board of Pathology requires that residents train an average of 48 weeks per year. Accordingly, residents in the Department of Pathology are provided 4 weeks (20 days) of vacation and CME paid time off annually, which is in alignment with the Penn State Hershey policy stating that "Each resident is granted 15 to 20 working days of paid leave each year in keeping with program or departmental policy. The total amount of leave includes both vacation and CME paid time off. These days should also be used for interviewing and relocation."

Approval for vacation time will be coordinated between the attending staff of the rotation during which the resident requests vacation, the chief resident, and the Program Director. In order to provide optimal patient care, residents will need to arrange for appropriate service coverage per rotation-specific policies and submit a completed vacation request form at least one week in advance. (Click here for Resident Time Away request form.)  Half-day vacation is not allowed.  In order to allow some flexibility associated with transitions in June, vacations are generally restricted during that month.


Professional meetings serve a variety of important functions including provision of education about medical practice, current research, administrative issues and compliance issues. They also offer excellent opportunities for networking that can be invaluable for choosing fellowships and future employment. In this light, residents are expected to attend at least one national or regional professional meeting each year.

To attend a professional meeting, approval must be requested from the Program Director. Approval will be dependent upon the educational and professional value of the activities and the current academic standing of the resident. Faculty evaluations, RISE scores, and conference attendance will be considered in determining whether approval can be granted.  In order to reward and encourage presentations made at meetings, there are some differences in sources of travel funds and days off allowed for meetings at which a resident is presenting as compared to meetings at which a resident is simply attending.

Resident is presenting at the meeting:

When residents are presenting at a meeting, all conference and travel days will not count as vacation days.  Upon approval of a travel grant application (see below), travel funds will come from the department.   Any additional time spent away from the hospital before or after the meeting will count as vacation days.  The departmental travel funds for residents, who are presenting posters or podium presentations at meetings, should be requested from the Pathology Research Award Program. Click here for the Application for the Pathology Research Travel Award.  Any additional travel expenses associated with attendance at professional meetings are eligible to be reimbursed from the annual resident stipend.

Resident is not presenting at the meeting:

When residents attend a meeting, but are not presenting, travel funds are eligible to be reimbursed from the annual resident stipend, and although conference days will not count as vacation days, travel days will count as vacation days.  Any additional time spent away from the hospital before or after the meeting will count as vacation days.  Travel expenses associated with attendance at professional meetings are eligible to be reimbursed from the annual resident stipend.  Residents are responsible for making sure they create a budget for their annual stipend so that they will have funds available to attend a meeting if they are not presenting.  All residents are expected to attend one CME meeting (or present at a meeting) each year in training.

Upon the resident's return from a meeting, he or she is encouraged to provide an educational conference to the other residents, presenting some of the knowledge gained at the meeting. Attendance at Board review courses is not considered equivalent to attendance at a meeting; vacation days must be used for this activity.

Travel arrangements should be made in consultation with the Pathology Residency Administrative Assistant.

Service Responsibilities

Residents have obligatory service responsibilities during core rotations in Autopsy/Cytology, Surgical Pathology, Hematology, and Blood Banking. Additionally, occasional coverage for RBC masses is required during Chemistry rotations. All residents are relieved of service obligations during mandatory conferences. However, it is the resident's responsibility to arrange for coverage of these service obligations for any scheduled time off, such as vacation or conferences. In the event of an unscheduled absence of a resident in a rotation having service responsibilities, coverage will be provided by residents in other rotations as follows:

Autopsy/Cytology Service (with single resident covering)

  1. AP elective resident (most senior unless already has completed 50 autopsies)

Surgical Pathology

  1. Pathologist's Assistants
  2. If two residents are on Autopsy/Cytology, one covers (junior first, then alternate)

Hematology or Blood Bank

  1. CP Consult resident
  2. CP elective resident (junior first, then alternate)
  3. Blood Bank bench/HLA resident for Blood Bank
  4. Chemistry resident (junior first, then alternate) for Hematology
  5. Virology resident
  6. Microbiology resident

See Emergency Coverage Schedule

Resident Supervision Policy

See Pathology Resident Supervision Policy.

Policy for Off-Site "Away" Elective Rotations

Residents and fellows may desire to take an elective rotation at an outside institution within the United States or abroad. Such away elective rotations should have as its primary goal an educational focus that cannot be obtained at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. During the elective rotation Hershey Medical Center will continue to pay the resident's or fellow's salary, benefits, and malpractice insurance as currently provided. All other associated expenses (housing, meals, travel, etc.) will be the responsibility of the resident/fellow. Additional malpractice insurance beyond the current coverage will not be provided by Hershey Medical Center.

Requirements and Process:

  1. The "Application for Off-Site ‘Away' Elective Rotation" must be completed and signed/approved by the applicant's Program Director and the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and DIO (or his designee).   Click here for application:   Application for Off-Site ‘Away' Elective Rotation
  2. The preceptor at the outside elective site must provide a letter agreeing to accept the resident/fellow for the time period requested, agreeing to the stated goals and objectives of the rotation, and agreeing to complete an evaluation of the resident's/fellow's performance during the rotation and to send this evaluation to the resident's Program Director.
  3. Outside rotations should preferably be taken in ACGME-accredited programs. If the requested rotation is not part of an ACGME-accredited program the resident/fellow and his/her Program Director should provide additional justification.
  4. Except for unusual circumstances, no more than one elective away month may be taken per resident/fellow during their training period.
  5. Elective rotations to countries either on the U.S. State Department's Travel Warning list or those with U.S. Treasury OFAC restrictions will not be permitted.


Written evaluations of residents will be completed by faculty at the end of each rotation or on a semi-annual basis. Residents will be evaluated on their progress towards achieving the six core competencies and other rotation-specific competencies. The evaluation process is intended to provide constructive feedback to the resident regarding his or her progress towards attaining the skills needed to be successful in the future practice of pathology, to identify any problem areas, and to provide recommendations for improvement. Residents will meet with the Program Director and Associate Program Directors semi-annually, to review the previous six months' group of evaluations and discuss career and educational planning.  If performance is not satisfactory, individuals will be notified no later than the first day of the ninth month in any particular year of training (e.g., by March 1st for a resident starting July 1st or 120 days prior to the end of the contract year) that their contract will not be renewed.

Residents will also periodically undergo 360 degree evaluations by staff with whom they work on their rotations. This process is intended to provide the resident with a picture of how they are perceived by individuals at a variety of levels in the workplace. 

Residents will be asked to complete several anonymous evaluations:

  • Regular evaluation of teaching faculty and rotations
  • Yearly global evaluations of the residency program, to include resources, rotations, conferences, lectures, strengths, weaknesses, etc., by the department
  • Yearly evaluation of the program through the Graduate Medical Office
  • ACGME survey assessing the residency program