Welcome to our pathology residency program at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. I like to consider our program as a hidden gem in the heart of America. We are a fairly small program averaging two residents per year. This enables us to develop a strong work ethic and solid relationships, as the residents, attendings and ancillary staff all work closely together. Our attendings have an open-door policy and they make our learning a pleasurable experience. This makes the program feel more like a family than just a workplace.

We see approximately 50,000 surgicals a year with a wide variety of specimens, including head and neck, breast, gastrointestinal, liver, GU, gynecologic, dermatopathology, hematopathology and cytopathology. We are a reference center for many of the small surrounding communities, which leads to a great range of cases.

The pathology department is dynamic, and we are always seeking to improve the quality of each resident's learning experience. Recently, the program has added more focused clinical pathology rotations, including blood bank, microbiology, chemistry and molecular pathology. Residents' special interests are encouraged and specialized rotations based on those interests are promoted. Over my years as a resident, I have watched the program develop into a stellar learning environment.

I find that not having fellowships at our program has been advantageous, as residents are able to present at multidisciplinary conferences, including breast/gynecologic, lung, gastrointestinal, head and neck, dermatopathology and general tumor board conferences. Moreover, we have a "hot seat" rotation that gives us extensive exposure to frozen sections. It also helps us develop our communication and multi-tasking skills, which prepares us for the world beyond residency. This rotation tends to be similar to surgical pathology fellowship rotations and helps residents feel "sign out ready."

Our didactics consist of faculty lectures, scope sessions and board review lectures. One of the recent additions that I am very excited about is a "boot camp" for our first-year residents. This is an overview at the beginning of the PGY1 year that covers some of the normal and basic histopathology. It is such a useful exercise, that all the residents make time to attend and have found it beneficial.

In addition to the basic core teaching, we have ample opportunities for case report studies and research projects. The program covers the expense of attending national meetings if a resident has an accepted poster. The program also provides capped expense coverage for one national meeting for which a resident does not have a poster or abstract to present.

We have an annual education fund to use on books, electronics or Step 3 examination fees. We also have an extensive library which can be accessed online. The GME office organizes social events for all the residency programs throughout the year. One event that the pathology department looks forward to is the Residency Bowl, which is a quiz game among programs. It's a great way to socialize and earn extra education funds. Our program often makes it to the finals.

Our resident group has a good camaraderie. Being a small program with an impressive specimen load, we have the good fortune of having a more team orientated rather than competitive attitude, which creates a healthy learning environment. I have enjoyed my experience here and encourage you to come and see our program for yourself.

Brandy Pownell, Pathology Resident

Brandy Pownell, M.D.