The 15 months of surgical pathology are divided by 6-8 months at the Sacramento Veteran's Affairs Medical Center at Mather and 7-9 months at UC Davis. 

UC Davis Medical Center:

The anatomic pathology laboratories at the UC Davis Department of Pathology process approximately 20,000 specimens annually and utilize state-of-the art immune-staining.  There are three sub-specialty teams in the UC Davis Department of Pathology:

  • Team A (GI, transplant, bone & soft tissue, and pediatrics)
  • Team B (GYN)
  • Team C (breast, GU, ENT)

The residents spend one week on each team with one attending. Sign-out is generally in the morning and gross dissections in the afternoon. The resident previews cases in the evenings.  The resident will sign out these cases the next morning with their attending.
In addition, each resident spends one week on frozen sections. During this week the resident is responsible for all frozen sections and determining the appropriate tissue to submit for frozen section, under the guidance of the attending.  The resident is not required but may elect to complete the grossing of the entire specimen, but the resident will not be involved with the final sign-out of the case.

The resident’s responsibility increases with each month of time spent on surgical pathology.  Initially, the resident will master the mechanics of surgical pathology by learning how to use the tools of the trade: gross examination, frozen section, participating in sign-out, and dictating cases.  With time, the resident will be able to handle all routine specimens by her/himself, increasing the responsibility for making the correct diagnosis.  With time, the residents will demonstrate improved clinical understanding and capacity for consultation, conference presentation, and teaching junior residents.  Eventually, the resident begins to function independently, producing finished reports, and handling complex cases with appropriate consultations from staff.

Veteran's Affairs Medical Center at Mather:

There are two residents who rotate at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center at Mather each month and therefore are part of a two-day cycle.  Day one will be signing out for the senior resident (and grossing for the junior resident).  Day two will then be grossing for the senior resident (and signing out for the junior resident).  While on the “grossing day,” the resident is responsible for grossing all specimens, loading the processor by 5:00 p.m., performing all frozen sections, and performing all cytology procedures.  The types of procedures with which the resident will be involved include CT-guided fine needle aspiration, GI cytology, pulmonary cytology, and other fine-needle aspiration procedures.