My Life Has Been Changed Thanks to My Anatomical Pathology Clerkship

Anatomical Pathology
"A final diagnosis sometimes is revealed under the microscope."-C.Dorsett

As my Anatomical Pathology clerkship comes to a close, I can't help but appreciate how much it made me appreciate life and to consider taking a new approach to my studies in order to understand medicine. 
Like a broken record, at each session "pathology makes medicine easier to understand" was repeated. Initially, I thought the Pathologists were just biased. I later found out how true that statement was as the month progressed and my studies intensified and my knowledge grew. 

Now that it's almost over, the following are three major take homes I would like to share with you. 

1. Consider Changing Your Lifestyle In Order To Extend Your Life Expectancy. 

I was beyond surprised to find out how many persons suffer from Diabetes and the complications of the disease, or those who smoke and develop pulmonary tumors. These things can all be avoided simply by taking the time to adjust the modifiable risk factors such as diet, exercise, smoking cessation and managing stressors. If you have the opportunity to add years to your life by simply omitting negative risk factors from your life, wouldn't you want to do it? 

Commit to walking at least 30 minutes per day and increasing your water consumption while reducing your consumption of high fat foods. 

2. If You're a Student, Trying To Make Sense of Medicine, START With The Pathology And Work Backwards. 

This takes a while to get use to, however, once you continue practicing it gets easier and you will begin noticing the overlap of the physiology that is involved in some pathological processes. Mind maps work extremely well for this process and allows for simple review. 

As we had a case report to prepare and present, I realized how tiresome writing post-mortem examination reports can be to the novice, because some patients present with more underlying conditions than you can count and finding out what could have resulted in their death isn't always as simple as a myocardial infarction. For instance, if your patient was a known diabetic, with hypertension and was treated for end stage renal disease, one can simply suggest that they succumbed to the progression of the diabetic hypertension. This may be true, however are you able to explain clearly the pathophysiology or the sequence of events that would cause the development of pulmonary edema? It was in Anatomical pathology that I learned just how much human physiology I understood and those areas that I weren't so sure about and took short cuts to learn. 

3. When You Don't Have a Clue What The Diagnosis Is...

Take some time and review the histopathology slides. There are a lot of clues that can assist with your final diagnosis that lie on a microscope slide. Often times I don't enjoy histology, I'll admit; mainly because it requires a lot of time, dedication and either you understand the structures seen or you don't, which means you need to add a little more microscope time to your study schedule. 

I was able to appreciate and confirm a diagnosis by simply reviewing a sample of a patient's lung. 
When all else seems grim, return to the basics-microscopy. 

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