Third Year Questions

So, half of my residency training is complete. Surprisingly, I have learned more than I thought I knew but still feel behind where I think that I should be. Initially, grossing had been most difficult for me in terms of speed and time management. But I spent 3 months at the end of my 2nd year at our highest-volume, most-difficult surgical pathology site and only now see the benefits of my training there. Many of the lessons I learned while at that site inform how I dictate and gross my specimens now. At my new program I do not have templates to follow or surgpath fellows to advise me how to gross as I had previously. Even though my chiefs will go over the specific nuances here that may differ from how I was previously trained, I am still given more autonomy than a first year because I can apply those lessons I must have subconsciously learned.

Even so, despite all that I have learned, the thought of taking boards in approximately one year still seems far away but not far enough away that I don’t feel like the volume of information to learn is not still overwhelming. First and foremost, my thoughts wander to the prospect of starting to study for AP/CP boards (but still procrastinating as of this moment due to work and still moving in).

Then the second equally big thought on my mind is that of fellowship applications in a couple months. I just recently started researching programs. We do not have a Common Match when it comes to pathology fellowships and we are also competing for spots with non-pathology residency trained physicians for subspecialties such as dermpath, clinical microbiology, and so on. CAP members last year gave a great webinar addressing how to prepare to apply for fellowships – a handout and recorded webinar can be found at and, respectively.

For those who have been in this spot before, any advice how to plan my third year and address these two big beasts – studying for the boards and fellowship applications?



-Betty Chung, DO, MPH, MA is a third year resident physician at Rutgers – Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.