Clerkship Program

Rotations for medical students are a well-established tradition of our Department of Pathology. Electives and selectives are available for years III and IV. An integrated Pathology Clerkship is offered, embracing both Anatomic and Clinical Pathology where students have the opportunity to rotate both at Los Angeles General Medical Center and Keck Medical Center.

They observe and assist in the gross examination of surgical specimens, subsequently taking part in the multi-headed microscope sign-out sessions with faculty, residents and fellows. They are invited to accompany senior residents and fellows when frozen section consultations are required, and follow all aspects of this undertaking.

Students typically attend the Fine Needle Aspiration Clinic, where they are taught how properly to perform aspiration biopsies on superficial lesions, and subsequently observe the specimen preparation and microscopic interpretation. Students also accompany cytopathology fellows to radiology procedure rooms such as ultrasound, bronchoscopy, computed tomography and endoscopy for adequacy assessment of imaging-guided biopsies and fine needle aspirations.

The students spend a significant proportion of their time in Hematopathology where they become familiar with all aspects involved in the diagnosis of leukemias, lymphomas and other hematologic disorders. Should students have interest in more specialized areas, they may have the opportunity to attend Dermatopathology, Eye pathology and Neuropathology sessions, depending on the availability of faculty time.

Exposure to the core areas of clinical pathology is obtained in clinical chemistry, microbiology, transfusion medicine, and clinical hematology. During the rotation the students will observe daily activities of the clinical laboratories and interact one-on-one with faculty and trainees in these areas.

Autopsy experience is gained through the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, through their attendance at weekly hands-on teaching sessions. Medical autopsies can also be observed if requested.

The schedule takes into account the future specialty choice of the medical students (if known), so that they may obtain the maximum benefit and exposure to cases related to their future training.

At the conclusion of their rotation, students are required either to present an interesting case, or to submit a written case report, emphasizing the main diagnostic pathology features.

Space at the multi-headed microscope limits the number of students who can rotate at the same time in each location. Currently about 30 students take the rotation over the course of a year.

Rotations start on the 1st Monday of the month, with exception of Year III Elective.


Dominique Vela

Pathology Clerkship Coordinator