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J Clin Pathol. 2011 Sep;64(9):761-4. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2011-200116. Epub 2011 May 18.

Resident education and quality of gross tissue examination practices of benign uteri.

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Department of Pathology, University of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado, USA.



In the USA, most anatomical pathology residency training is based on an apprenticeship model in which residents learn directly by watching more senior personnel and then performing the examination. The level and the effect of the standardisation of resident trainee gross tissue examination practices have not been extensively evaluated.


In this apprenticeship-based training programme, a retrospective report review was performed to measure the level of standardisation of gross description (for 11 mandatory descriptors) and tissue submission (for four mandatory sections) practices for uterine specimens removed for benign conditions (n=78). Practices were examined for significant relationships with error, turnaround time (TAT), resource utilisation and postgraduate year of resident (n=25) training.


Residents provided mandatory descriptors from 23.1% to 93.6% of the time and submitted mandatory sections from 82.1% to 96.2% of the time. Cases submitted by less experienced residents had a longer TAT and were associated with more errors, measured by the necessity to submit additional tissues. Less experienced residents used greater resources (submitting 9.5 tissue cassettes per case) compared with more experienced residents (7.3 cassettes per case), and a statistically significant correlation was found between the number of cassettes submitted and TAT.


In this training programme, the model of apprenticeship training leads to less than optimal standardisation of gross examination practices, inefficiency, active errors and a high frequency of latent conditions leading to error.

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