Survey of UK histopathology consultants’ attitudes towards academic and molecular pathology

SF Brockmoeller, C. Young, JL Lee, Mark Arends, BS Wilkins, GJ Thomas, JL Jones, KA Oien, KD Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Academic pathology is facing a crisis; an ongoing decline in academic pathology posts, a paucity of academic pathologist’s in-training, and unfilled posts at a time when cellular pathology departments are challenged to deliver increasing numbers of molecular tests. The NCRI initiative in Cellular & Molecular Pathology commissioned a survey to assess attitudes of cellular pathology consultants towards research in order to understand barriers and identify possible solutions to improve this situation. As cellular pathology is encompassing an increasing number of diagnostic molecular tests, we also surveyed the current approach to and extent of training in molecular pathology. Methods: The survey was distributed to all UK-based consultant pathologists via the Pathological Society of Great Britain & Ireland and RCPath networks. Heads of Department were contacted separately to obtain figures for number of academic training and consultant posts. Results: 302 cellular pathologists completed the survey which represents approximately 21% of the total cellular histopathology workforce. Most respondents (89%) had been involved in research at some point; currently, 22% were undertaking research formally, and 41% on an informal basis. Of those previously involved in research, 57% stopped early in their consultant career. The majority of substantive academic posts were Professors of which 60% had been in post for >20 years. Most respondents (84%) used molecular pathology in diagnostic work, independent of where they worked or the length of time in post. Notably, 53% of consultants had not received molecular pathology training, particularly more senior consultants and consultants in district general hospitals. Conclusions: The survey reveals that the academic workforce is skewed towards senior individuals, many of whom are approaching retirement, with a missing cohort of “junior consultant” academic pathologists to replace them. Most pathologists stop formal research activity at the beginning of a consultant career. Whilst molecular pathology is an increasing part of a pathologist’s workload, the majority of consultant cellular pathologists have not received any formal molecular training.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Pathology
Early online date25 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2019


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