Maintaining a Healthy Balance During Your Pathology Fellowship

Jun 26, 2018

Chandra Krishnan, MD, FASCP, completed his first fellowship in hematopathology at Stanford University School of Medicine in 2009. Although the workload was substantial, he shared his responsibilities with two co-fellows. He took the opportunity to look at every rare case and would confer with his co-fellows about them. Frequently, he stayed at the hospital until 8:30 p.m. That was fine because his wife also worked late. 

One year later, his life changed dramatically. He did a second pathology fellowship in pediatrics at an institution where he was the only fellow in that department. Add to that, he and his wife had a new baby. Juggling his many responsibilities forced him to become ultra-efficient and strike a new balance.

“At that point, my goal was to try to learn one thing that day as best I can,” he says. “Sometimes, it involved learning about a case, and sometimes it was learning about subject matter I was unfamiliar with. I would have our secretary pull every case from that institution, and I reviewed them to see how a diagnosis was made.” Yet by 6 p.m. each day, he was on his way home.

Learning to balance an extremely hectic schedule has served him well. Today, Dr. Krishnan practices pathology at a children’s hospital. And, he and his wife have two young children who have an array of after-school activities. “Every day, my goal is to get all my work done and, in whatever spare time I have, I try to do a continuing medical education activity or a webinar. It makes you feel you can practice as a good pathologist.”

He shares the insights he gained with current and incoming pathology fellows.

“An incoming fellow needs to view the fellowship as a great opportunity to become a subject matter expert,” he says. “The expectation going in has to be that you’ll put in long hours and have the chance to do self-study in a litigation-free environment. There is no other time in your life that you’ll get a chance to review difficult cases in a litigation-free environment.”

For an incoming fellow, it’s a year to “hone your diagnostic blade. You will have so much educational material at your disposal in a collegial environment. It’s a great year. If you go into it with the attitude that you may spend a lot of time learning something so that you can be the best you can be, that’s incredibly valuable.”