Crest

University of Alberta - Anatomical Pathology - Edmonton

2022 R-1 Main Residency Match - first iteration
CMG Stream for CMG

Last approved on September 21, 2021

Approximate Quota:

 2 

Accreditation status : Accredited

Provincial Criteria


Dr. Kerri Chung
Laboratory Medicine and Pathology 
University of Alberta Hospital 
8440 - 112 Street
Edmonton , Alberta, T6G 2R7
780-407-2606
Anatomical Pathology Information Page
U of A Pathology Website

Program Contacts

Program Contact
Ms. Kathryn Tomlinson
Program Administrator
katomlin@ualberta.ca
780-407-2606

Program Director
Dr. Kerri Chung
Program Director - Anatomical Pathology


Important Information

Competence by Design (CBD)

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has embarked upon an initiative to introduce competency-based medical education (CBME) in Canadian postgraduate specialty training and in professional practice in Canada.  This initiative, called Competence by Design (CBD), aims to enhance patient care by aligning medical education and lifelong learning with evolving patient needs.

CBD uses time as a resource rather than the basis for progression.  It is not anticipated that the duration of training will change for the majority of trainees. Residency programs are broken down into stages, and each stage compasses a series of entrustable professional activities (EPAs) and milestones based on required competencies. These EPAs and milestones create more targeted learning outcomes and involve more frequent, formative assessments within the clinical workplace to ensure residents are developing and receiving feedback on the skills they need.

Our program has successfully transitioned to CBD in accordance with the nationally coordinated schedule. Our program will continue to undergo the same rigorous accreditation processes as traditional programs. All CBD programs (and traditional programs) will continue to lead to Royal College approved certification. Certification for trainees in both CBD and traditional programs will include the completion of a Royal College examination; however, residents in CBD programs will also be assessed against specialty specific EPAs and milestones throughout their training. Within a CBD program, all EPAs (documented within an electronic portfolio), stage promotions and the Royal College examination must be successfully completed to achieve certification.

For more information, please contact cbd@royalcollege.ca 

 

 


Return of Service

There are no return of service requirements at the University of Alberta.


General Instructions

Program application language: English


Supporting Documentation

Canadian citizenship
CaRMS partners with third-party organizations to verify your citizenship or permanent resident status. If your status is verified by one of these organizations, you will not need to provide citizenship documents in your application. If your citizenship status is not verified, you must provide one of the documents listed below.
Required
Submit one of the following documents to verify your Canadian citizenship:
• Canadian Birth Certificate or Act of Birth
• Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
• Confirmation of Permanent Residence in Canada
• Passport page showing Canadian Citizenship
• Canadian Permanent Resident Card (both sides of card)
• Record of Landing, clearly showing the date of landing in Canada

Canadian Permanent Resident card must be accompanied by Record of Landing, clearly showing the date of landing in Canada.

Language proficiency
Optional - will be reviewed
Submit one of the following documents to verify your language proficiency:
• IELTS

IMG and graduates of Canadian medical schools where instruction is not English (as identified by CPSA)  must meet English language requirements required by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta for licensure.  English Language Proficiency . 

Effective January 1, 2018, IELTS will be the only English language proficiency test accepted by CPSA.

Reference documents
Required
Number requested: 3

Submit only three letters of reference from academic and professional sources, including: supervisors of clinical rotations; undergraduate elective supervisors; research or postgraduate supervisors (where applicable). At least one letter from a pathologist is encouraged; however, we understand that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this may not be possible this year and this will not impact eligibility. 

Additional documents
Required
Medical School Transcript 

Please submit a notarized copy of your medical school transcript.  If the document is not in English, please submit a translation as well.

Medical Student Performance Record 

Order from your Dean's office

Personal Letter 
Word count
Minimum : None
Maximum : None

Personal letter (under 500 words) describing how your background and experiences have led to an interest and commitment to a career in pathology.

Custom Résumé / CV 

Please highlight any areas that you are particularly interested in reviewing (awards, scholarships, research publications, interests outside of medicine, etc.)

Photo 
[Note: Photograph is used as memory aid only]

Optional - will be reviewed
Undergraduate Transcript (Bachelor's Degree) 


Review Process

Applications submitted after file review has opened on January 31, 2022


Supporting documents (excluding letters of reference) that arrive after file review has opened  on  January 31, 2022


Letters of reference that arrive after the unmasking date on January 31, 2022



Interviews

Dates:

  • March 16, 2022
  • March 17, 2022
  • March 18, 2022
Candidates selected for an interview will be contacted by the program administrator by mid-February to schedule an interview date and time. All interviews will be conducted virtually.

Program will notify all applicants through CaRMS Online and will send email invitations directly to applicants selected for an interview.
Candidates will be interviewed by a panel through a virtual format. The panel will include members of the Carms Selection Committee: the program director; the program administrator; faculty members; and chief residents.


Selection Criteria

Candidates should have an excellent academic record with above average verbal and written communication skills. A capacity for self-motivation and good organizational skills are essential.

Program goals

The objective of our program is to train highly competent anatomical pathologists for practice in both academic and community settings. They will make substantial contributions to patient care, education and/or research in the field of pathology. Our trainees will be medical experts in anatomical pathology, collaborators with colleagues inside and outside of the laboratory, leaders, and teachers. We train residents to meet the needs of patients not only in Alberta, but accross Canada.

Selection process goals

  • Genuine interest in pursuing a career in pathology.
  • Motivated, self-learner.
  • Reliable, with strong time management skills.
  • Team player with strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Enjoys solving diagnostic challenges and visual puzzles.
  • Intellectual curiosity with desire to contribute to the field via scholarly, educational, or administrative projects.
  • Enjoys interacting with and advising clinical colleagues.
  • Commitment to high standards of quality in his/her work.

File review process

Review team composition : Program director, program administrator, chief resident(s), faculty members

Average number of applications received by our program in the last five years : 0 - 50

Average percentage of applicants offered interviews : 76 - 100 %

Evaluation criteria :
File component Criteria
CV Pre-medical school career, educational profile, work history
Electives Electives will not be considered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on elective rotation scheduling
Examinations Not evaluated
Extra-curricular Volunteer and community service experience, involvement in recreational/athletic activities
Leadership skills Experience in leadership positions is considered an asset
MSPRs Clerkship evaluations, comments, unexplained leaves of absence/extension of training
Personal letters Must demonstrate genuine interest in pathology, highlighting any experience with pathology including electives, research, etc.
Reference documents Interpersonal skills, professionalism, aptitude, and suitability for pathology
Research/Publications Research experience, skills translatable to pathology
Transcripts Success/failure and marks, where applicable, on medical/pre-medical coursework

Elective criteria

We encourage applicants to have completed at least one elective in our discipline.
We do not require applicants to have done onsite electives.

Electives will not be considered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on elective rotation scheduling. 

 

 

Interview process

Interview format :



We routinely accommodate requests to re-schedule interviews for applicants due to weather, technology failure or unforeseen circumstances.

Interview evaluation criteria :
Interview components Criteria
Collaboration skills Evidence from examples of personal experience and discussion of hypothetical scenarios
Collegiality Evidence from examples of personal experience and discussion of hypothetical scenarios
Communication skills Ability to clearly and concisely respond to and ask questions
Health advocacy We do not evaluate this interview component
Interest in the discipline Ability to clearly articulate their reasons for considering pathology
Interest in the program Knowledge of the program and evidence they have considered what aspects of a program they consider important
Leadership skills Evidence from examples of personal experience and discussion of hypothetical scenarios
Professionalism Exhibits professional behaviour throughout the interview process and can discuss personal and hypothetical scenarios
Scholarly activities Experience and skills pertinent or transferable to laboratory medicine

Information gathered outside of CaRMS application

Specifically, we may consider:







Ranking process

The behavior(s) exhibited below during the interview process may prevent an applicant from being ranked by our program :
   
   
   


Program Highlights

- This is a comprehensive program providing experiences in all facets of anatomical pathology. This includes tertiary academic hospitals, community hospitals, and private facilities. The regional model of health care delivery provides all residents access to a broad range of cases and complexities.

- We have highly dedicated teaching faculty, including staff pathologists, pathology assistants, and cytotechnologists. The ratio of residents to faculty is 1:8.

- Opportunities for interprovincial and international electives are available and encouraged (Covid pandemic allowing).

- There are no mandatory rural rotations but these are easily arranged and encouraged (Covid pandemic allowing).

- Research is actively encouraged, and research electives are available for all residents. All residents are expected to participate in at least one clinical or basic science project, and present their results at an annual departmental resident research day. When appropriate, they can present at a national or international meeting during the course of their training, with funding assistance available.


Program Curriculum

This residency program is for 5 years.

Program length of training does not exceed the Royal College or College of Family Physicians of Canada standard.

ANATOMICAL PATHOLOGY

All anatomical pathology training programs in Canada have transitioned to the Competence by Design (CBD) curriculum (as of July 2019) as mandated by the Royal College. CBD comprises four (4) stages: Transition to Discipline (TTD); Foundations of Discipline (FD); Core of Discipline (CD); and Transition to Practice (TTP). A brief description of each stage is below, followed by the rotation schedule organized both by stage and training year. The two-part Royal College Exam is expected to take place in spring of fourth year (written exam) and fall of fifth year (practical exam).

Transition to Discipline: This stage consists of a 2-block introduction to pathology in which the resident learns the essential skills needed to start on a pathology rotation. This includes: instruction in gross room, morgue, and laboratory safety; laboratory tours; using a microscope; instruction in specimen processing; basics in histology; a virtual anatomy course; an introduction to autopsy; and establishing a training portfolio. These blocks offer an introduction to the program and resident colleagues before the start of clinical rotations.

Foundations of Discipline: This stage encompasses training in clinical disciplines that rely heavily on pathology (e.g. medical oncology, dermatology, gastroenterology, surgery) in addition to rotations that help the resident prepare for MCCQE part 2 (e.g. emergency medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine). The clinical rotations last for 8-9 months. The residents will then return to the lab for rotations where they learn the basics of grossing, pathology reporting, and autopsy. This is done by pairing the resident with a senior resident colleagues with transition to independent activities.

Core of Discipline: This stage of training consists of rotations in general surgical pathology across all of our sites (University of Alberta Hospital [UAH], Royal Alexandra Hospital [RAH], Misericordia Community Hospital [MCH], Grey Nuns Community Hospital [GNH], and Dynalife Medical Labs [DLDx]). There are also a number of mandatory subspecialty rotations, including breast pathology, gynecologic pathology, lymphoma pathology, pediatric pathology, neuropathology, and cytopathology among others. Forensic pathology is done at the Chief Medical Examiner's Office (MEO). There is also dedicated elective time and Royal College exam leave.

Transition to Practice: This stage is a pre-practice stage where the resident gains experience and confidence at various training sites, functioning at a "junior attending" level. Ample elective time allows for focused training in the resident's area of interest. The goal at the end of this stage is to be ready for independent practice.

Throughout all stages, the resident is required to maintain personal learning plans, complete at least one research project to be presented at the UofA annual research day (DRIVE days), and participate in teaching of students and other residents.

 

ROTATIONS BY STAGE

Transition to Discipline (2 blocks):

Orientation to Histology, Anatomy, and Basic Pathology (2 blocks)

 

Foundations of Discipline (11 blocks):

ER (1 block) 

Radiology (1) 

Internal Medicine (1) 

Obstetrics and Gynecology (1) 

Pediatrics (1) 

Medical Oncology (1) 

Surgery (1) 

Dermatology (1)  

Vacation (1) 

(re-)Orientation to Pathology (1)

Surgical Pathology Junior UAH (1)

 

Core of Discipline (41):

Autopsy UAH/ RAH (3 blocks) 

Surgical Pathology Junior UAH (4) 

Surgical Pathology Junior DLDx (2) 

Surgical Pathology Junior RAH (1) 

Surgical Pathology Junior GNH (1) 

Surgical Pathology Junior MCH (1) 

Cytology Junior UAH/ DLDx (2) 

Surgical Pathology Senior UAH (3)  

Surgical Pathology Senior RAH (2)

Surgical Pathology Senior GNH (1)

Surgical Pathology Senior MCH (1)

Cytology Senior UAH/ DLDx (1)

Dermatopathology UAH (1)

Breast Pathology MCH (1) 

Gynecologic Pathology RAH (2) 

Pediatric Pathology UAH / Stollery Childrens' Hospital (1)

Lymph Node Pathology CCI / DLDx (1)

Molecular Pathology Junior UAH (1) 

Molecular Pathology Senior UAH (1) 

Neuropathology UAH (2) 

Forensic Pathology MEO (2) 

Electives (6) 

Study Leave #1(1) 

Study Leave #2 (1) 

 

Transition to Practice (10 blocks):

Surgical Pathology Senior UAH (2 blocks)

Surgical Pathology Senior RAH (1)

Surgical Pathology Senior DLDx (2)

Electives (5)

 

*Electives are subject to approval by the program director. The resident is required to be in good-standing and on-track.

* Rotations subject to change at the discretion of the program director and Residency Program Committee

 

ROTATIONS BY YEAR (FLEXIBLE)

PGY1 (13 blocks, TTD and FD)

  • Orientation to Histology, Anatomy, and Basic Pathology (2 blocks, block 1 and 2)
  • ER (1 block)
  • Radiology (1 block)
  • Internal Medicine (1 block)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (1 block)
  • Pediatrics (1 block)
  • Medical Oncology (1 block)
  • Surgery (1 block)
  • Dermatology (1 block)
  • Vacation (1 block)
  • (re-)Orientation to Pathology (1 block, block 12)
  • Surgical Pathology Junior UAH (1 block, block 13)

 

PGY2 (13 blocks, CD)

  • Autopsy UAH/RAH (2 blocks)
  • Surgical Pathology Junior UAH (4 blocks)
  • Surgical Pathology Junior DLDx (2 blocks)
  • Surgical Pathology Junior RAH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Junior GNH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Junior MCH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior UAH (2 blocks)

 

PGY3 (13 blocks, CD)

  • Cytology Junior UAH / DLDx (2 blocks)
  • Dermatopathology UAH (1 block)
  • Molecular Pathology Junior (1 block)
  • Breast Pathology MCH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior MCH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior RAH (1 block)
  • Gynecologic Pathology RAH (1 block)
  • Neuropathology UAH (2 blocks)
  • Forensic Pathology MEO (2 blocks)
  • Electives (1 block)

 

PGY4 (13 blocks, CD)

  • Autopsy Pathology UAH / RAH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior UAH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior RAH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior GNH (1 block)
  • Cytology Senior UAH / DLDx (1 block)
  • Gynecologic Pathology RAH (1 block)
  • Pediatric Pathology UAH / Stollery Childrens' Hospital (1 block)
  • Lymph Node Pathology (1 block)
  • Molecular pathology Senior (1 block)
  • Study Leave #1 (1 block)
  • Electives (3 blocks)

 

PGY5 (13 blocks, CD and TTP)

  • Surgical Pathology Senior UAH (2 blocks)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior RAH (1 block)
  • Surgical Pathology Senior DLDx (2 blocks)
  • Study Leave #2 (1 block)
  • Electives (7 blocks)

*Electives are subject to approval by the program director. The resident is required to be in good-standing and on-track.

* Rotations subject to change at the discretion of the program director and Residency Program Committee

*Vacation time in PGY1 is allocated as 1 4-week block. Vacation time in PGY 2-5 is taken out of scheduled rotations.

 


Training Sites

Training Sites for Mandatory Rotations:

- University of Alberta Hospital (UAH)

- Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH)

- Grey Nuns Community Hospital (GNH)

- Misericordia Community Hospital (MCH)

- DynaLIFE Medical Labs (DLDx)

- Cross Cancer Institute (CCI)

- Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (MEO) 

-- We do not have any mandatory rural rotations. However, rural electives are encouraged, and funding/accommodation may be available for rural electives in Alberta through the provincial RPAP program.

-- Electives out-of-town and out-of-province are allowed and encouraged. Out-of-country electives are on hold during the Covid pandemic, in compliance with directives from the University of Alberta PGME.


FAQ

1a) What are some strengths about your specialty?  What draws and keeps people in your specialty?

The opportunity to understand the nature of disease in an in-depth way that isn't achieved in any other specialty.  You get to practice scientific diagnostic medicine over a broad range of subjects and you have a fair degree of control over your schedule.

1b)  What are some common complaints about your specialty?

There is limited direct patient contact - you'll never have an office full of patients who regard you as their doctor, but limited patient contact does not mean you will sit alone in the basement! The work you do is at the foundation of all medicine, and patients cannot be managed without your diagnosis. In order to do this, you must interact and communicate constantly and effectively with your pathology and technical colleagues regarding cases and to troubleshoot problems. You will also be in frequent contact with clinicians by phone, email, or in person to provide advice, discuss cases and diagnoses, or for frozen sections. Tumour boards are an essential component of pathology practice, in which your effective interaction and communication with clinicians, radiologists and other pathologists is integral to providing optimum patient care.

2) Why did you choose your specialty?

Opportunity to have an academic career that readily incorporates teaching, research, and clinical pathology with a excellent work-life balance. Prefer an intellectual specialty with non-stop interesting diagnostic puzzles over a procedural specialty. You always learn something new everyday and are at the forefront of medical discovery.

3) What types of clinical cases do you commonly see?

Anatomical pathology, by definition, encompasses the entire medical spectrum.  Think of any disease process, from pediatrics to geriatrics, neurosurgery to dermatology, pathologists diagnose diseases in all organs. Many pathologists choose to subspecialize in one organ system (breast, GI, lymphoma, etc.) and may focus their practice mostly or even exclusively in that system.

4) Briefly describe a typical day.

Depends upon the setting.  Most pathologists are involved in clinicopathologic rounds, laboratory supervision, and direct diagnostic work in biopsies, surgical pathology, hematology, etc.  Academic pathologists teach students and residents, and may have dedicated time for research in addition to their clinical sign out duties; community-based pathologists usually sign out cases for the majority of their time, but often have major administrative roles in their institutions/medical staff organizations.  Some community hospitals also train residents, and the pathologists will be involved in teaching.  There is very little to no evening/weekend call in most settings.  Call is always taken from home and usually problems can be solved over the phone or by a brief hospital visit, typically for a frozen section.

5a) What are the varieties of lifestyles within your field?

The lifestyle in pathology is hard to beat.  It is possible to do pathology and do it well and still have a life outside medicine.  Most pathologists work regular office hours and do not haunt the hospital halls at night!  Working hours are often flexible in many settings, as non-urgent cases do not complain about having to wait a few hours, unlike a waiting room full of patients!

5b)  Specifically, how able is your specialty to accommodate family life?

Very easily.  Working hours are very regular for pathologists and call duties are minimal.  In pathology, one can achieve a very satisfactory work-life balance that is ideal for raising a family.

6)  Range of incomes?

In Alberta, pathologists receive a fixed income according to a standard contracted grid determined by experience.  Starting incomes are very competitive compared to other non-surgical specialties.  Pathologists generally have no or minimal overhead and do not deal with hassles of billing.

7) How do you see your discipline changing over the next decade?

While histo/cytomorphology will remain the mainstay of diagnosis, there is also increasing usage of molecular techniques for diagnosis, prognostic determination and treatment responses.  These are exciting changes, particularly as new tests are developed and brought into daily practice. Molecular pathology is an extremely popular fellowship as a result. Digital pathology and computer-aided diagnosis will come into play, helping the pathologist with tedious tasks, but NOT replacing the pathologist (certainly unlikely in the next 50 years)!

Residency Program Questions

8) What are you looking for specifically in an impressive candidate?

Someone who is hard-working, self-motivated, and passionate about understanding the nature of disease.  Someone who is a team-player, and has excellent communication skills.  It is also important to have strong clinical knowledge which serves as a basis for everything we do in pathology.

9)  What can a potential candidate do now, in order to be an appealing applicant to your program?

Acquire a sound foundation of medical knowledge, develop excellent communication skills both with patients and other medical colleagues, and explore other specialty areas to ensure that pathology is the right choice for you.  Doing a pathology elective at any institution in North America is a good way to understand what we do (when there isn't a global pandemic happening!) and research is strongly encouraged.

10) What is your residency program's orientation and focus?

To produce top-quality diagnostic pathologists who are passionate about what they do.  This is done by ensuring exposure to a large volume of cases, exposure to teaching and research opportunities and a full range of practice patterns in a collegial and collaborative environment.  We support the development of both academic pathologists and hospital/community based pathologists in this program.

11) What is the availability of experiences in subspecialty areas during training?

There is built in time to experience all the subspecialties of pathology from pediatrics to molecular pathology.  In addition, there is ample elective time that can be used to pursue subspecialty training.

12) What is the on-call schedule during each year of residency?

- Clinical rotations:  determined by the clinical service.

- Pathology rotations:  residents cover UAH surgical pathology after-hours call for one week at a time, approximately every ten weeks.  It is home call, and most issues can be dealt with by phone. On rare occasions, you may have to go to the hospital, typically for a frozen section.  Residents rotating at UAH also cover daytime call to triage "rush" specimen requests or inquiries from clinicians, which typically comprises one or two phone calls a day.

14) What distinguishes the U of A program from other programs?

The greatest strengths of the program include huge volume of cases and excellent teaching with ever-expanding opportunities for research and teaching.   The U of A department is strong in all laboratory disciplines and able to mount strong specific programs in anatomical pathology.  Our various hospital sites allow you to experience pathology practice in a variety of settings and learn from different preceptors and hospital "cultures" without even leaving the city. Success rates on the first attempt at the Royal College exam has been 100% for CMGs in the last five years.

15a) Who can we contact for more information or to set up electives?

Our program administrator, Ms. Kathryn Tomlinson.  She can be reached by email at katomlin@ualberta.ca

15b) Specifically, is there a list of residents whom we can call or email?

Yes - please contact Ms. Tomlinson for contact information.

16) How competitive is it to get in, and then to succeed in your field?

Almost all students who want pathology as their first choice will be matched in the first round; most will also get their first choice location. You should have no difficulty in securing a residency position and succeeding in the FRCPC examinations.  

17a)  Is there active and/or required research in your residency program?

A research project is required, and must be presented at an intradepartmental or external scientific meeting.

17b)  What role does research play in your career?

Research is present in varying degrees among pathologists.  Our research strengths include a world-renowned renal and transplantation pathology research program.  Some are 75% research, 25% clinical practice, while others do no research at all.  It is pathologist dependent.

18)  What local, national or international conferences would be of benefit to candidates interested in your residency program?

The annual pathology Banff course, the Canadian Association of Pathologists (CAP) annual meeting and the United States and Canada Association of Pathologists' (USCAP) annual meeting are all regularly attended by residents and pathologists.