More summer school reviews

The pathology summer school is held every August and is open to medical students in any year of training, offering the opportunity to find out about the wide range of pathology specialities through a mixture of lectures and small-group interactive breakout sessions. This free two-day course gives attendees the chance to talk to current trainees and established consultants about their careers.  

Below, attendees reflect on their time at the summer school. 

Combining my passion for pathology and helping people

‘Attending the pathology summer school was an enlightening experience. From the age of six, I dreamt of helping people suffering from infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDs. However, I did not think it would be possible to combine this with my passion for pathology until I attended the summer school. Listening to Professor Sebastian along with other speakers explain the different pathways that they took to get to their respective fields was inspiring. I may be at the beginning of my journey as a medical student, but the summer school made me hopeful as I can visualise what my future could be.

It is exciting to imagine a future where diagnosis and treatment are personalised therefore potentially more effective.

‘During the biochemistry workshop, we were given case studies to make diagnoses in order to gain a better understanding of this sub-speciality. In addition to increasing my awareness of the role of biochemists, it also made me appreciate how different fields of pathology work together as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Lastly, a discussion that made an impact on me was one on the impact of technology on the future of pathology particularly relating to precision medicine. It is exciting to imagine a future where diagnosis and treatment are personalised therefore potentially more effective. Overall, the pathology summer school was an incredible experience that I would recommend to medical students interested in the field.’ 

Miriam Mumbua, Queen Mary University of London

A gripping portrayal of life, death and disease

‘We began the first day by exploring our generous goody bags over tea and biscuits. The opening lectures were welcoming, entertaining and informative. I found that pathologists have an excellent sense of humour and the audience were in stitches at times! The introductory talk revisited aspects of our medical curriculum and this was refreshing. We learned about the duties of a pathologist and of how critical their work is to the delivery of so many NHS services. Our senses were then treated to an extravagant buffet lunch. Here the College provided a warm and informal networking platform where we listened to all the weird and wonderful anecdotes from pathologists currently working in the NHS, all the while returning for second and third (and fourth) helpings of all the delicious finger food.

The haematology breakout was very practical as I performed my first biopsy on an orange!

‘The first biochemistry breakout let us investigate a genital birth defect with guidance from a consultant. It was a logic bending exercise and I realised that one of the hallmarks of a good pathologist was being brave enough to ask the simple questions first. The haematology breakout was very practical as I performed my first biopsy on an orange! This was followed by more exciting problem solving in immunology and histopathology where we simulated a multi-disciplinary team. A sumptuous and mind-blowing barbecue from the College’s in-house caterers and a hilarious pub quiz style competition with prizes concluded the day. Day two offered captivating talks on neuropathology and microbiology, then ended with a tour of the world-famous Gordon’s Museum of Pathology. I was filled with both awe and dread as I walked through its galleries of specimens dating from the 19th and 20th century. It was a gripping portrayal of life, death and disease, and I’d like to go as far as describing it as a pilgrimage for medical students.’

Paaras Doshi, Keele University

Changing my perception of pathology

‘Before medical school I mentored health technology entrepreneurs. Although I loved working on cutting edge health technology, I wanted to work closely with patients and have an impact on an individual level.

‘As a first year medical student, I spent time in histopathology and post mortem. The combination of pure science and visualising disease processes led me to seriously consider a career in pathology. The only drawback was the lack of patient contact, as I am sure is the case for many medical students. It didn’t align with my perception of what being a doctor is. Because of this, the RCPath Summer School seemed like a good opportunity to challenge my assumptions about pathology.

From the patient’s perspective, I imagine that understanding the reasoning for a diagnosis might make it easier to accept.

‘At the summer school, a London-based histopathology trainee talked about joining the ward round to discuss their diagnosis directly with the patient. From the patient’s perspective, I imagine that understanding the reasoning for a diagnosis might make it easier to accept.

‘Whether or not this practice becomes widespread, the trainee’s story changed my perception of pathology. I realised that my concerns regarding the lack of patient contact were actually concerns that I wouldn’t have a direct impact on patient care. However, this isn’t the case. The histopathologist’s diagnosis has important implications for the patient’s prognosis and management, and therefore their quality of life.

‘During one of the Q&A sessions there was discussion about the lack of overlap between pathology and public health. It was apparent that more could be done to share data and learnings between these fields to improve health outcomes at a population level. I found this surprising, particularly as technology was a prominent discussion point during the breakout sessions; the use of digital microscopy, CT autopsy and molecular pathology. This highlighted an opportunity to bring together my career in technology to solve problems as a pathologist in the future.’

Katie-Rose Cawthorne, Swansea University

Previous summer school feedback

Our last Pathology Summer School was a hit with medical students from across the UK. Here, six attendees tell us what they enjoyed the most – from diagnosing mystery illnesses to learning all about infectious diseases. 

As I had only completed first year and had no prior knowledge of pathology, it was fascinating to attend lectures by professionals across all areas of pathology. In particular, I enjoyed the forensic pathology session. Being able to play detective with some of the extensive number of specimens from the museum was both intriguing and a good challenge. I also got the opportunity to meet people from all different types of backgrounds and, through the quiz night and buffet, had some great conversations! I would highly recommend the summer school, no matter what stage of medical school you're at or which medical school you attend. Rumaysa Quraishi

The Pathology Summer School was a fantastic event which really stimulated me to think about pathology in its broadest sense, while helping me to consider future career options. It was also a brilliant opportunity to meet like-minded future colleagues and doctors already involved in pathology. Thanks to all involved! Jasper Mogg

The story of how Professor Sebastian Lucas impacted the Gwaze trial sent shivers down my spine - and it made me appreciate the true beauty of Pathology. Haseem Raja

Katie Allen asks 'What's in the pots?'

The haematology break out session was very interactive and taking a 'bone marrow' biopsy from an apple was definitely an interesting experience! The quiz and buffet rounded of the end of a very well organised and informative event. Abina Dharmaratnam

I attended a Microbiology session which was led by a local specialist in infectious diseases. She used examples from her own career to illustrate how pathologists help very sick patients when standard therapies have failed. Returning to these cases keeps me motivated in my own studies. Ryan Hoyle

I thought the workshops were well organised and the staff were very friendly. After attending the event, I am now strongly considering a career in pathology. Wassim Merzougui

Summer School has completely changed my view on pathology, which is now one of my top career choices. I enjoyed meeting doctors representing different pathology specialties, but the highlight of the event for me was the pathology quiz - a fun opportunity to network with trainees and students from across the UK. Dawid Hubert