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Scottish Medical Training

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Speciality: Histopathology

Programme Description
GMC Reference: NOS/459

The Programme provides a broad base to training in Histopathology with exposure to all aspects of surgical pathology, cytopathology and post mortem pathology practice. The Programme follows a rota system that allows trainees to rotate regularly through these components. In addition to the general training in surgical pathology, trainees will be exposed to sub-specialty work and will develop skills in handling a wide range of simple and complex specimens. Consultants with special interests and expertise supervise trainees’ work one to one in an encouraging and supportive, yet challenging, environment. Cytopathology training includes attendance at symptomatic clinics, taking and rapidly reporting fine needle aspirates as well as reporting the range of diagnostic cytopathology specimens.

The laboratories are UKAS approved and make use of automated equipment. Up to date investigative methods for immunocytochemical and molecular studies of routine cases are available for a wide range of specimens.

Post mortem practice follows current guidance. There is excellent exposure to hands on post mortem work in the hospital and community setting. There are well established links with the Forensic Pathology services across the Deanery which enhances trainees’ experience in morbid anatomy and its investigation.

Trainees have extensive opportunities to teach undergraduates, Foundation doctors, fellow trainees and biomedical scientists, conceive and carry out audit projects, ensuring meaningful outcomes, and be involved in fundamental, applied and educational research. Collaboration with the local universities is encouraged and there are active postgraduate sectors. Organisational and managerial skills are fostered through involvement in a range of activities in the departments (e.g. the handling of Critical Incidents) and Deanery (e.g. Specialty Training and Education Committee). Trainees undertake a programme of workplace based assessments and there is regular end-of-block Consultant feedback. There is twice yearly departmental appraisal with help to develop personal learning plans. Trainees are encouraged to attend relevant courses and meetings both locally and nationally.  There is also a regular programme of in-house teaching.

The programme is located in the teaching hospital, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. This hospital provides a range of services to the population of Grampian and the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland. The histopathology case load is a mix of primary, secondary and tertiary care. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary functions as a general hospital for local and regional services as well as providing a wide range of specialist and sub-specialist referral services, including some tertiary referral cases for Highland and Tayside. The histopathology practice reflects this mix with training opportunities made available in all areas defined in the Royal College of Pathologists’ Histopathology Specialty Training Curriculum (2015).

The programme usually involves a rotation to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, for a maximum of 6 months. This is a large district general hospital which, because of its geographical situation, offers a range of specialist and sub-specialist services. The case mix in Inverness is broadly similar to Aberdeen, lacking only some sub-specialty material. It does provide an opportunity to sample the district general hospital environment and thus provides trainees with a contrast to Aberdeen.

Aberdeen, on the north east coast of Scotland has a rich history and a central position in oilfield technology. The climate is sunny and dry, benefiting from the nearby hills which shelter the city. The hills and valleys are a close and extensive recreational facility in easy reach of the city. There is an extensive range of shops and a selection of cultural facilities. The city itself is moderately large but small enough to allow quick escape to the countryside, many people living in adjacent towns. There are good schools and employment opportunities in the oil and service industries. The airport provides frequent links with most major UK cities and there are regular train services to the south and north.

Inverness, the “capital of the Highlands”, sits on the River Ness, just downstream from the famous Loch of the same name. The city is a bustling centre with good cultural, retail and leisure facilities. The high hills of Scotland are nearby and provide challenges to the most experienced climber as well as relaxing walks for the less ambitious. The airport has regular connections to other UK airports and to the western and northern isles. Rail links extend toward all points of the compass. The city has a pleasant ambience and has good educational opportunities for youngsters. The hospital at Raigmore is renowned among medical students and trainees for its friendly and personal atmosphere.

Research, audit, teaching and management opportunities

The Histopathology Programme provides a broad base to training in histopathology with exposure to surgical pathology, cytopathology and post mortem pathology practice. Through use of a rota system, trainees rotate regularly through these components. In addition to the general training in surgical pathology, trainees will be constantly exposed to sub-specialty work and will develop skills in handling a wide range of simple and complex specimens.

Aberdeen continues to recognise the utility of fine needle aspiration cytology as a means to obtain rapid, accurate and relatively non-invasive diagnostic material. From the trainee's point of view, this service affords the opportunity to experience direct patient contact, often lost from other laboratory specialty training programmes.

In post mortem practice there is excellent exposure to hands on post mortem work in the hospital and community setting. Recent years have seen a dramatic decline in the rate of hospital post mortems, with a direct impact on training opportunities, but at Aberdeen there are well established links with the Forensic Pathology services across the Deanery.

The curriculum requirement for an introduction to neuropathology is not provided on-site but trainees attend a two-week course in Edinburgh in year one or year two of training.  There is a 2 week hands-on attachment to the Department of Genetics in Aberdeen, but experience of the diagnostic and clinical relevance of genetic testing is ongoing throughout the entire training programme.

Trainees have extensive opportunities to teach undergraduates, Foundation doctors, fellow trainees and biomedical scientists. Trainees also have ample opportunity to conceive and carry out audit projects, ensuring meaningful outcomes, and to be involved in fundamental, applied and educational research. Histopathology lies at the cutting edge of medical diagnostics. Implicit in this is the continued opportunity for trainees to identify, investigate and publish new findings which routine histological study might uncover. In Aberdeen, we are well placed to encourage such pursuits. Many senior consultants have active research interests and several have strong links with the university.

Trainers in Aberdeen and Inverness show a high level of commitment to their role to nurture, teach and support trainees on their path to full qualification. The histopathology practice in both centres provides training opportunities in all areas defined in the Royal College of Pathologists' Histopathology Specialty Training Curriculum (2015). Trainees undertake a programme of workplace based assessments.  There is regular, end-of-block Consultant feedback.  Twice yearly, there are in-house appraisals including help to develop personal learning plans.

Aberdeen trainees have enjoyed a good rate of success in the Royal College of Pathology exams. Because research is actively encouraged in Aberdeen, the department maintains a steady output of quality publications in highly respected journals. But equally as important as these measurable benchmarks are the attainment of job satisfaction and the sense of professional maturity, which the training programme in Aberdeen and Raigmore endeavours to provide. In this regard, Scotland North  trainees can expect to receive the complete package of medical training benefits, including full qualification, pride in their chosen specialty and the confidence to succeed in, and to enjoy, their future career.

Aberdeen, on the north east coast of Scotland has a rich history and a central position in oilfield technology. The climate is relatively sunny and dry benefiting from the nearby hills which shelter the city. The surrounding hills and valleys provide an extensive recreational facility within easy reach of the city. There is an extensive range of shops and a selection of cultural facilities. The city itself is moderately large but small enough to allow quick escape to the countryside. There are good schools and employment opportunities in the oil and service industries. The airport provides frequent links with most major UK cities and there are regular train services to the south and north.

Inverness, the "capital of the Highlands", sits on the River Ness, just downstream from the famous Loch Ness. The city is a bustling centre with good cultural, retail and leisure facilities. The high hills of Scotland are nearby and provide challenges to the most experienced climber as well as relaxing walks for the less ambitious. The airport has regular connections to other UK airports and to the western and northern isles. Rail links extend toward all points of the compass. The hospital at Raigmore is renowned among medical students and trainees for its friendly and personal atmosphere.

Where is the training delivered?
This programme involves placements in some or all of these Health Boards and hospitals:

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, Royal Aberdeen Childrens Hospital

North of Scotland – placements in Aberdeen hospitals and Inverness: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen; Raigmore Hospital, Inverness; Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital; University of Aberdeen

Contacts and Useful Links
Programme Type Deanery based or National: Deanery
Administration office North of Scotland
Lead Dean / Director Professor Alan Denison
Responsible Associate Postgraduate Dean or Assistant Director (GP) Dr Marion Slater
Specialty or Sub-specialty Specialty or Sub-specialty: Specialty
Date of GMC recent approval August 2010
Associated Royal College - Faculty
Royal College of Pathologists (web site)
Curriculum and Associated Assessment System https://www.rcpath.org/trainees/training/training-by-specialty/histopathology.html
Programme Administrator: Named Programme Administrator: Lynda Service
Address: NHS Education for Scotland, Forest Grove House, Foresterhill Road, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZP
Tel: 01224 805132
Email: Lynda.Service@nes.scot.nhs.uk
Programme Director Programme Director Name: Dr Louise Smith
Address: Department of Pathology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Tel:
Email: louisejsmith@nhs.net
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