Pathology Department Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine Pathology Department


Residency Training Programs

Anatomical Pathology

This is a five year program designed to provide the training experiences required by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for specialty certification, and to enable trainees to acquire the following knowledge, skills and attributes.

Consultative Functions

a) Data Acquisition and Interpretation - recognition and diagnostic interpretation of cellular and tissue abnormalities;

b) Test Selection - appropriate application of special techniques to tissue specimens for diagnostic and investigative purposes.

Professional Knowledge

a) The basic responses of cells and tissues to adverse stimuli;
b) The principles and applications of various types of microscopy; including electron microscopy; routine and special staining procedures; of photography in recording gross and microscopic lesions;
c) System diseases and their range of pathologic and clinical expressions, including relationships to other laboratory test results, and;
d) Coding and retrieval systems for diagnostic information.

Managerial Functions

Principles of management and administration of the laboratory, and the relationships with hospital administration.

Education and Research

a) Participation in regular educational activities, such as rounds, and in academic centres, teaching programs;
b) Appreciation and exploitation of the research potential of the service experience.

Program Content

PGY1 - This year is equivalent to a rotating internship during which the resident obtains experience in a variety of clinical disciplines.

PGY2 - This is spent a the QE II Health Sciences Centre, VG site. During the first week, instructions are offered in the basic techniques of autopsy and surgical pathology, supplemented by a teaching collection of films and slide-tape programs, including programs on principles of tissue fixation, staining and histochemistry. During the remainder of the year, the residents rotate in the autopsy and surgical services, including quick-section diagnoses, under staff supervision.

PGY3 - This consists of four rotations, every three months, in cytopathology at the VG site; neuropathology at the VG site; pediatric pathology at the IWK Health Centre and in a mixed surgical and autopsy pathology rotation. The latter rotation may take place at the VG site or in Saint John Regional Hospital. Otherwise, the Saint John rotation will be taken in the fourth year.

PGY4 - Apart from the three month rotation to the Saint John Regional Hospital, this year may be taken as the elective year depending upon previous experience, progress and special needs. The Training Committee will determine whether this opportunity is provided to the resident. Programs may be organized to allow residents (a) to correct deficiencies in knowledge and training requirements; (b) receives in-depth experience in one or more sub-specialty areas; and conduct patient-related research under supervision of staff offerings special programs. During this year, arrangements will be made for a four week rotation in immunopathology and electron microscopy.

PGY5 - This year provides the resident with more intensive experience in autopsy and surgical pathology at increasing levels of responsibility, usually at the QE II Health Sciences Centre (VG site). The three month rotation in forensic pathology also takes place during this year (or occasionally during the PGY4 year).


During the first two years, residents are required to take Pathobiology courses (PATH5040 and 5050) offered by the Department. Attendance at the academic half day and other conference programs in autopsy and surgical pathology are also required. There is also an extensive sub-specialty conference program that residents are required or encouraged to attend depending on the rotation.