Interview with a Pathologist with More than 40 Years of Experience

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Interview with a Pathologist: Dr. Charu Subramony

We’re celebrating International Pathology Day by sharing this interview with board-certified Pathologist, Dr. Charu Subramony. Dr. Subramony has been practicing pathology for more than 44 years in Mississippi and specializes in transfusion medicine and surgical pathology.

1. What advice do you have for aspiring pathologists?

Answer: Most medical students decide on their career path in the third or fourth year of medical school. They usually take elective rotations in a subject area they are interested in.  Students who have chosen pathology usually consider it seriously only after they have taken a rotation. I would urge medical students to take a rotation and sample the subject, talk to the faculty, and the residents. 

2. What do you like most about being a pathologist?

Answer: A pathologist is a consultant to other doctors. Our diagnosis is an important aspect of the management of a patient’s disease.

3. If you had to do it all over again, would you still become a pathologist? What would you do differently?

Answer: Yes, I would still consider pathology if I had to start over again. When I started my career, sub-specialty fellowships training was not available. Training with pathologists with expertise in the subject area is important. 

4. What surprised you most about pathology?

Answer: After 44 years of practicing pathology, I still see cases I have never seen before or cases that I have read in books but see them for the first time in person. We never have a dull moment. 

5. Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you began your career in pathology?

Answer: Molecular diagnostic tests are now an important aspect of treatment. I wish I had paid more attention to this subject as a medical student. However, molecular biology was not as advanced then as it is now. Pathologists are life-long learners and I am too.

6. What do you do to destress?

Answer: Generally, I totally enjoy what I do and do not consider my job as stressing me a lot. 

7. What was the biggest obstacle on your journey to becoming a pathologist?

Answer: I have spent my entire career as a pathologist in one institution. I sometimes wonder if I could have reached a higher level in my profession by moving to other places.

8. What is the most unusual case you have ever encountered?

Answer: I have seen several unusual cases. One example is a case of an individual who has all his/her coronary arteries occluded by atheromatous plaques. I am still fascinated by how that person lived.

9. What do you want people to know when it comes to pathology?

Answer: Generally, patients do not meet with us but we are doctors who make important decisions regarding the patient’s treatment.

10. What is the biggest misconception about pathology?

Answer: Most people think pathologists only perform autopsies or solve murder mysteries and that is simply not the case.
I think of my job as a person who solves puzzles every day and my diagnosis makes the physician give appropriate treatment to his/her patients. – Dr. Subramony
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