Pathways to Pathology


MSU and McLaren Greater Lansing partnership brings opportunities to students interested in the field of pathology

Students in the joint Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM)/College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) Pathology Interest Group are gaining knowledge and real-life experience outside of the traditional medical school curriculum, thanks to a budding partnership with McLaren Greater Lansing.

The Pathology Interest Group was started by MSU medical students and pathology faculty members, and is dedicated to the promotion, outreach and educational advancement of the study of pathology among students from both colleges. In the fall, medical and pre-medical students joined practicing pathologists for the first annual Pathology Day at McLaren Greater Lansing.

The morning session of Pathology Day introduced attendees to pathology and laboratory medicine, complete with rotating stations of gross examination with real patient specimens. Students were able to practice their skills by preparing their own slides from frozen tissue for mounting, fixation, staining and microscopic examination. Honorable guest pathologists Mitual Amin, M.D., and Shane Starr, M.D., volunteered their time to guide students in proper inspection and palpation of the specimen, and craft a diagnosis and treatment plan for each case.

The afternoon focused on microscopic examination of cases as mock sessions, providing students with the opportunity to preview cases and learn the final diagnosis through collaborative work and guidance from teaching pathologists. Participants also received certificates of achievement, and a select group of students earned awards for excellent microtomy skills and exemplary pathology knowledge.

The event concluded with a guided tour of McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital and networking opportunities for students and pathologists in attendance.

Continuing collaboration

Pathology Day marked the first in-person collaborative event between the Pathology Interest Group and McLaren Greater Lansing — but likely not the last. In response to the positive feedback, MSU students and leaders hope to strengthen this partnership and highlight the efforts contributed to pathology, with a goal of expanding the field and preparing students for successful careers.  

Residency program

Rajan Dewar, M.D., Ph.D., medical director and chief of pathology at McLaren Greater Lansing, is spearheading an effort to establish a new pathology residency program at McLaren. This would extend the reach of both programs to provide additional teaching, clinical rounds and pathology rotations. Dr. Dewar also has proposed a similar course for Ph.D. and other postdoctoral students to introduce pathobiology of disease.

“Events such as these are an excellent showcase of the hospital’s facilities and education that prospective applicants may gain in the near future.” Dr. Dewar said.

Participants said the Pathology Interest Group and activities like Pathology Day help expose students to the field of pathology and engage them in career opportunities they may not know about. As Christina Silva, OMS-I, said, “Pathology Day was memorable for me because it was my first time seeing what occurs during the typical day of a pathologist working in a hospital.”

Basma Klump, D.O./Ph.D. candidate and co-president of the Pathology Interest Group, said it was rewarding to see how “excited, engaged and focused” participants were during the day-long event.”

“We would absolutely love to host more events like Pathology Day, giving our students real-world experience in pathology and laboratory medicine and their influences on patient care decisions,” Dr. Dewar said.

McLaren as a key partner

McLaren’s proximity to MSU’s East Lansing campus and its willingness to work with a world-class university, combined with Dr. Dewar’s enthusiasm and leadership, are the vital ingredients to make the partnership work.

Students are thankful to the McLaren team for being welcoming and helpful during and after the event. “They not only offered their expertise while working through the cases, but they also ended the day offering their support as we continue to progress through our medical career,” Silva said.

Curtiss Johnson, OMS-II, vice president of MSU CHM-COM Pathology Interest Group, credits the pathologists and laboratory personnel at McLaren Greater Lansing who generously volunteered their time to instruct and engage with medical students. “Their passion and enthusiasm for teaching and making connections with students is infectious, and we hope to continue building this relationship and connecting even more students to pathology events and resources.”

MSU students shaping the future of pathology

Johnson said this partnership highlights the importance of medical student exposure to pathology, and has “no doubt that McLaren could see high-quality applicants from MSU students in the near future.”

“Our M.D. and D.O. students are among the best in the country,” said Dr. Dewar. “In the past year, we have had five students from the Pathology Interest Group win national awards with pathology organizations.”

The group has received national recognition by the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC) through the Medical Student Interest Group grant, which provides funding and support, said Meredith Herman, OMS-IV, co-president of MSU CHM/COM Pathology Interest Group.

How to get involved

Klump encourages students interested in learning about the field of pathology to participate in future initiatives like Pathology Day to “get a glimpse of the day-to-day work of a pathologist.”

“We are a growing student-led group connecting students to unique opportunities to interact with residency programs, contribute to research projects, participate in shadowing experiences and receive prestigious awards and scholarships through the College of American Pathologists (CAP), American Society for Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) and Association of Pathology Chairs (APC),” Herman said. “These experiences position students well for residency — students at all levels of education are welcome to join!”

Students can learn more about MSU CHM-COM Pathology Interest Group by following them on Facebook, Twitter and CampusReel.