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How to Find a Pathology Job

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Overview

This page represents the personal thoughts, opinions, and musings of Jerad M Gardner, MD regarding the pathology job market and how to find a pathology job. It is based on my personal experiences and things I have learned from others. It is by no means official or exhaustive, nor is it necessarily the correct way to do things. A lot of people ask me questions about this topic, so I am merely attempting to compile my answers online in the hopes that some readers will find it useful. Best of luck! - Jerad


Details of my personal job search (2011-2012)

A bit about my background. I did AP/CP pathology residency at Houston Methodist Hospital (graduating in 2010), followed by a soft tissue pathology fellowship with Sharon Weiss at Emory (2011) and a dermatopathology fellowship at Emory (2012). I finished training and started my first job on July 1, 2012. I began inquiring seriously (i.e. - sending out my CV) about jobs about 9 months before my planned start date (so Fall of my final year of training), and I felt that gave me enough time to conduct my job search. Obviously, I had been doing groundwork and networking for years prior to the start of my job search, and that, coupled with the many pathologists I came to know via my involvement in CAP Residents Forum, was invaluable (more on that under "pearls" below).

My job search was very unique due to the fact that my wife was a 4th year medical student who was applying to residency in a different specialty at the same time I was seeking a pathology job. At least we were on-cycle and seeking new positions the same year, but it certainly made things more complicated. Basically, my wife made a list of all residency programs she wanted to apply to, and then I tried my best to apply to as many jobs as I thought reasonable in those cities where she applied. I used google to find mostly academic but also some private pathology departments/groups in those cities, and I sent them cold emails with an attached CV (see examples below). Here are the statistics of my job search:

I selected and cold emailed my CV to 42 practices/departments.

  • I typically sent my cold emails to the department Chair or to the coordinator if the Chair's address was unavailable. If I knew someone personally who worked in the group, I would contact them ahead of my cold email so that they could put in a good word for me.  
  • If I received an interested response, I then explained my unique situation of co-applying with my wife (it's best to be open about these sorts of things up front). Caveat: I believe that the interviews and formal job offers I received were at least to some extent influenced by the status of my wife's interview process (i.e. - some departments or groups told me up front that they were interested in me for their position but wanted to postpone interviewing me until it was certain that my wife would be interviewing in the same city); coordinating everything between the two of us was sometimes stressful and tricky. 
  • Most of these jobs were in the South and Texas (our families live in those regions), but I also applied for a few positions in the Northeast as well as the Northwest.
  • 9 positions were with private groups or large commercial laboratories
  • 33 positions were with academic centers/universities


Out of the 42 groups contacted, here were the responses I received:

  • 9 (21%) offered me an interview 
  • 10 (24%) said “maybe” they would be interested in interviewing me depending on a variety of factors (e.g. - if my wife got an interview in the same city, once the new Chair was instated, etc)
  • 13 (31%) said "no" they were not looking or else I was not right for the position
  • 10 (24%) programs never responded to my email


Out of the 9 groups/departments who indicated an interest in interviewing me, I scheduled 7 interviews (I declined the other 2 for logistical reasons related to my wife's residency search). I attended 5 of those interviews and received 2 formal job offers, one of which I accepted once my wife secured a residency at the same University. I cancelled the remaining 2 scheduled interviews after accepting my position.  

Resources: where to find jobs

Google

  • Search groups/depts in regions of interest
  • Visit or cold email/call those places

Word of mouth

  • Program director
  • Friends in practice
  • Your network

Job boards

The Dreaded Job Market Discussion

The topic of the pathology job market seems to have been discussed for as long as there have been pathologists (ok maybe not THAT long). Much of the debate over whether or not there are enough jobs centers on anecdotes, and most of these seem to originate from a friend of a friend of an anonymous poster on an online pathology discussion board (studentdoctor.net being the most notorious in my opinion). There have been some studies that show a slight decrease in job availability in the last couple of years (2012-2014). CAP did market research and suggests that there will soon be a shortage of pathologists and demand will go up (but like all market projections, that should be taken with a healthy grain of salt). From my personal experiences with job hunting in 2011-2012, I found plenty of interested groups and interviews. I can also count on one hand the number of unemployed pathologists I have EVER met (and for my age, I know quite a few pathologists). I personally feel that the job market issue is more of a quality issue. That is, pathologists may mostly be able to find a job, but it may not be the job they want, or in the city they want, or for the salary they want. This suboptimal job quality may have its roots in oversupply of pathologists, but I think the full issue is more complex than just that. 


My view is that even if the overall trend in jobs is depressing, INDIVIDUALS can do things to rise above the majority of their colleagues and stand out. 


Cold Email Templates

I "cold emailed" a lot of academic programs and some private groups as well when searching for my first job. Here are some examples of the emails that I utilized (names have been changed to protect the innocent). I attached a copy of my CV when I sent these emails. I did apply to both academic and private jobs at the same time and utilized different email formats for both; I feel like both emails were honest as I was open to a variety of possibilities given that I was applying for a job at the same time as my wife was applying for residency in a different specialty. Honesty is very important in the job search (as it is for the residency and fellowship search and for life in general). I was upfront with all of my interviewers regarding my unique situation and feel that everyone was very understanding.

Feel free to adapt these emails to your own job hunting scenario and use them if you like. You should probably change the names and personal details though. 


Example 1 - For Academic Jobs:

Dear Dr. Smith,

I am currently a dermatopathology fellow at Emory University, and I also completed a soft tissue pathology fellowship here at Emory with Sharon Weiss last year. I am interested in finding an academic faculty position for (insert date here). My preference would be a position that would utilize my training in both soft tissue and dermatopathology and would provide me with ample teaching opportunities. Please find my CV attached. If you feel I might be able to fill a need in your department, please let me know.

Best regards,

Jerad 

Jerad M. Gardner, MD
Immediate Past Chair, CAP Residents Forum
Fellow, Dermatopathology, Emory University


Example 2 - For Private Jobs:


Dear Dr. White, 

I am currently a dermatopathology fellow at Emory interested in starting a job in (insert date here). I completed my soft tissue pathology fellowship last year at Emory with Sharon Weiss, and I trained in AP/CP at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. I am looking for a job covering general surgical pathology with a focus in dermpath and bone/soft tissue, although I would also be able to cover cytopathology, CP, or other areas if desired. Please find my CV attached. If I might be able to fill any need in your practice, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Best regards,

Jerad 

Jerad M. Gardner, MD
Immediate Past Chair, CAP Residents Forum
Fellow, Dermatopathology, Emory University



Key words: job hunt, job search, job market



Pearls of wisdom for getting a pathology job

  • Start networking as early as possible in residency. Meet everyone and build relationships with a focus on important people in groups/departments/cities/regions that are of greatest interest to you. 
  • Be flexible. The more flexible you are regarding where (geographically) you are willing to live, what salary you are willing to accept, and what types of pathology you are willing to practice, the better your chances of success. Say there are two equally trained dermatopathology fellows seeking a job:
    • Jane is only willing to live in Boston, demands a salary of $500,000 per year starting, and wants to cover dermpath service only with no frozens, call, general surg path sign out, or any other non-dermpath work. 
    • Alice is willing to live pretty much anywhere, including rural Idaho or North Dakota, she wants to make a reasonable salary but understands that starting salary won't be nearly as high as a partner might make, and she is happy to cover CP call or general surg path or even autopsies if her colleagues need her to do so. Clearly, Alice will be more likely to get a job. 

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