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Surgical Pathology - VA Hospital Rotation

Larry Massie, M.D.Joe Glass, M.D.

Length: two 3-month rotations

Website: New Mexico VA Health Care System

The VA pathology department is part of a joint venture with the Air Force Base in Albuquerque, and sees approximately 8,000 surgical pathology cases each year, which are divided among 5 full-time, AP/CP board certified pathologists. In addition to many interesting cases the VA provides a great environment to focus on some of the more routine specimens encountered in pathology such as GI, prostate, and skin biopsies. The VA is on a 2-day turn around cycle; the cases that are grossed on one day are then reviewed by the resident and signed out the following day. The residents will have exposure to voice recognition software by using Dragon Naturally Speaking to gross their surgical specimens. The VA has highly trained histology technicians who process, embed, stain, and prepare the microscopic slides in-house. They also perform basic immunohistochemistry panels. By having these services in-house, the resident has the opportunity to be more actively involved with troubleshooting and get immediate feedback  on issues such as complex specimen embedding. The residents on service are also responsible for presenting at general tumor board each week, which is a great way to experience the integral role pathology plays in patient care. Additionally, The VA  has a cytology department which processes approximately 1,600 cytology specimens annually. Depending on interest, residents can have additional exposure to cytology during their rotation and may also attend fine needle aspirations and learn criteria for adequacy of specimens.

image of people at VA Hospital rotation