4 April 2024

One of the most highly anticipated and notable events in the College calendar is the New Fellows Ceremony.

Hosted twice a year, the ceremony celebrates new fellows joining the RCPath community. It provides an opportunity for members to meet the College President and Vice Presidents, connect with other fellows and celebrate the fantastic achievement of passing their final FRCPath examinations.    

Pathology is a very diverse profession, spanning 17 different specialties. This means that our members come from a huge range of backgrounds, both in the UK and internationally, and specialise in highly varied areas of expertise within pathology. It’s fantastic to meet the new fellows, many of whom live and practise overseas and therefore make a big effort to attend the ceremony in person. 

At February’s ceremony, the College’s Member Engagement and Support team spoke to several new fellows to find out about their unique journeys to fellowship, as well as their hopes for their time at the College. Here are a few of their responses.

Dr Vanessa Djabety receives her award from Dr Bernie Croal at the New Fellows Ceremony

‘I am a woman of Ghanaian heritage who grew up in Liverpool. I studied undergraduate medicine in the East Midlands and am now training at the North West School of Pathology as a histopathologist.  

In future, I would love to be involved in several initiatives that the College currently engages in. I believe that the College is forward-thinking in terms of its public engagement efforts, getting the public interested in the science behind health and the human body. It would be great to be more involved in that. 

I also appreciate the College’s collaborative approach to advancing histopathology practices globally. I would enjoy the opportunity to be involved in efforts to advance diagnostic services and practices globally, working with and learning from the experience of colleagues in other countries.’

- Dr Vanessa Djabatey, new Fellow specialising in histopathology. 

‘I work in genetics and molecular genetics, and I've been working towards my fellowship for about eight years. I did my PhD viva first, followed by a project with the 100,000 Genomes Project, analysing metabolic cases that were yet to be diagnosed. 

Becoming a Fellow makes me feel more confident in myself. It also gives the users of the service more confidence in our work. My hopes for the future are to keep learning and developing, possibly by going to some of the members’ classes and clinics.’

– Dr Victoria Busby, new Fellow in Genetics.  

Dr Maria Brereton receives her award from Dr Bernie Croal at the New Fellows Ceremony

‘I started medicine when I was 34. I graduated in 2001 and worked in anaesthetics, but unfortunately became unwell with breast cancer so I changed specialty. That's why I've ended up doing pathology, though it was something I was always interested in. As I’m a bit older, the challenge was to get through the exams, but I got there in the end!  

My hopes for my time at the College are to continue learning and engaging with everything that's going on. I’d like support with my continuing education, getting advice whilst learning the job as a new consultant and so forth. I’d also like to volunteer to help with supervision training and things like that.’

- Dr Maria Brereton, new Fellow.  

‘I’m a specialist training in pathology, having started in 2017. I took some time out during training to do a master’s in medical education, and I was a teaching Fellow, so it's been a slightly longer process than it otherwise could have been. Becoming a new Fellow is the big achievement that you're really anxious about from day one. It's a rite of passage and can feel impossible at the start so it feels kind of surreal to have done it. 

I'm really looking forward to being a Fellow of the Royal College and taking part in everything that the College has available. I’d like to get involved in the education aspect, having done a master’s. I’m particularly interested in new technologies, such as the Pathology Portal and how that’s going to progress.  

I’m also interested in digital pathology and making learning more equitable across the country and internationally. Furthermore, in equalising opportunities for all trainees regardless of specialty, or background or where they are. 

Throughout my professional career, I hope that the College will provide us with easy to access, up-to-date and efficient updates with regards to advances in the profession, in workflow, in supporting departments and members who are encountering problems (such as workforce issues). I’d like them to bring together experiences across the profession so that we can learn from each other, as it will be a challenging time. There are fewer and fewer pathologists, but more and more work. Best practices and professional guidelines are really important, so I’d like the College to focus on making them equitable and accessible.’

– New Fellow, Anonymous

Dr Philip Macklin presents his Silver Research Medal

‘I'm now a consultant histopathologist in Oxford. I completed my Fellowship about a year ago, but couldn't come to the award ceremony because I had a very young daughter who was unfortunately too young for the College crèche. 

It was really nice to come today and experience a Fellowship ceremony – my belated graduation. I also won the Silver Research Medal in cellular pathology for some work that I did during my PhD, which was finished in 2020. Though it's a few years ago now, it was nice to get some recognition for all that hard work. 

About 18 months ago I went to the New Consultant's Day, which I found very useful. I think it's a really good initiative, because the step up from trainee to consultant felt quite large at the time. We received advice from people who had done that transition recently. They let us know about the sort of things that we might not even be aware about: management, business cases, financial planning, and what you’ll be expected to do. So that was really helpful. 

Going forward, I think any similar ideas or events that the College can do to support consultants is really important because it's quite an intense period of your career. Adapting to that change with support is really valuable. 

The College regulates our activities and as long as they keep doing what they're doing, that's what we need them to do. In the future, if time and energy permits, I could get involved with College initiatives. It's definitely something I would consider doing when I’m less tied up with clinical responsibilities.  

I think the College just needs to keep letting its fellows know what opportunities there are to volunteer, as people will definitely want to take those up in due course.’

- Philip Macklin, Silver Research Medal prize winner.   

Dr Nesrin Tolba receives her award from Dr Bernie Croal at the New Fellows Ceremony

‘I have been practicing pathology since 2014. I was inspired to join the Royal College by members who attending a meeting about the College in my home country, Egypt. I started my training there whilst practicing within UK guidelines. I took my first exam in 2018 and my second in 2022, so it only took four years which felt like a big success. So now I’m here and it’s fun- the dream is fun! It’s worth it and I'd like to encourage anyone to do it. 

To become a member of a huge thing like the Royal College of Pathologists is a nice feeling; the feeling of being a part of a family. It's one of the biggest things I have achieved in my life so far. 

I started working in the UK three months ago and have been applying what I have studied. It’s a little bit tiring as it’s different to what I’m used to, but it’s a huge step in my career. 

In terms of my hopes for my time at the College, I’m planning to publish papers, and to volunteer as an examiner.’

- Dr Nesrin Tolba, new Fellow.  

‘I've been working as a doctor for 10 years, and I've been doing haematology for the last five. I think I really ended up in it by chance. I wanted something that was a bit of a break from constant clinical work and patients. I had done a number of haematology jobs and everyone was always really friendly. I felt like it would be a nice group of people to be a part of, and the patients are great too.  

Moving forward, I'm excited to not have to do exams anymore. I just want to keep learning really; it’s one of those specialties where things are always changing. Technology is changing quickly within haematology. It's nice to have some of the really old skills still in use, but also to keep developing and using digital technology and microscopes in a slightly different way.’

- Dr Tania Dexter, new Fellow specialising in haematology.  

Interested in training to be a pathologist, or joining the College? Whatever stage you’re at in your career, we’re here for you. As well as gaining access to numerous member benefits, becoming a part of the RCPath community supports our work to enhance excellence in pathology for healthcare across the world.  

The College could not deliver this vital work without our member volunteers. There are several opportunities for members to get involved with the work of the College, as committee members, specialist advisors, examiners, guideline authors and so on. 

If you’re already a member and would like to find out more about how the College can support you, or have questions about volunteering, please get in touch at [email protected].