Dalhousie University - Anatomical Pathology - Halifax


Program Director

Dr. Gillian Bethune


Program Director

Dr. Gillian Bethune

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  • Relatively small program (currently 9 AP residents and 7 GP residents) largely based at one institution (QEII HSC). This allows for close and collegial interaction between pathologists and residents.

  • Highly engaged, collegial faculty with breadth of expertise who deliver high quality, one-on-one supervision and teaching

  • Superb success rate at RCPSC examination and obtaining fellowships and/or jobs upon completion of program

  • Excellent volume and variety of laboratory specimens available for residency education

  • Spatious and well equipped resident workspaces

  • Well developed and comprehensive Anatomical Pathology Transition to Discipline month in PGY1

  • Well developed and comprehensive academic half day including a well designed laboratory management curriculum

  • Resident issues are considered to be of great importance at the divisional and departmental levels

  • Strong support to enhance learning environment and to balance more routine clinical work

  • Strong off site subspecialty training including Forensic rotation at the Nova Scotia Medical Examiners’ office with 4 Forensic pathologists and Pediatric pathology rotation at the IWK with 4 Pediatric pathologists

  • Research opportunities – residents are productive; many have received research grants and/or research awards

  • Research methods course offered every two years for PGY2/3 residents

  • All pathologists’ offices and both frozen section labs at QEII HSC have at least a dual teaching head; several rooms have multihead teaching microscopes including an 18-head teaching microscope

  • The Saint John, NB based rotation exposes the residents to a variety of cases in a capacity of a junior pathologist (under supervision of the faculty). The SJRH busy service gives the residents an opportunity to test their diagnostic skills before the final exam and contributes to their functioning independently in a diagnostic laboratory. The rotation allows the residents to get to know more maritime pathologists and the resources available.

  • Development of strong examination skills with biannual in-house exams and annual RISE exam

  • Electives may be taken at appropriate institutions in North America (up to twelve weeks)

  • A medium-sized program that is supportive of career opportunities in both academic and community practice

  • A program director who cares about each resident and facilitates all of the residents reaching their full potential.

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Join a dynamic program based in one of Canada’s largest health care institutions. The structured teaching schedule, abundant volume of cases and wide spectrum of subspecialty expertise will furnish you with an ideal environment in which to excel in Anatomical Pathology. Institutional centralization (QEII HSC) provides for maximum exposure to a large volume of interesting teaching material at one site, and rotations to other centres (IWK Children's Hospital, Medical Examiners Office and Saint John Regional Hospital in New Brunswick) add diversity, additional expertise and a broad perspective on the practice of pathology. The atmosphere is collegial with an emphasis on teaching. The staff at the main teaching hospital (QEII) is youthful and expanding in number.

Annually, pathology specimens in Halifax include more than 1000 autopsies (110 hospital, 110 pediatric, 100 neuropathology, 800 medical examiner) plus more than 51,000 surgical and more than 65,000 cytological specimens. At the IWK, there are more than 3500 surgicals.

When the time comes to relax, you will enjoy the wild beauty of the maritime shores, friendly people and an active social life.


Where are the training sites and how will I get to work?

The two sites where residents spend the majority of their time are within a 12 minute walk of each other in downtown Halifax (Mackenzie building at Victoria General Hospital, IWK Children's Hospital)! A number of residents live close by and walk to work. During residency there are two to three months at the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service in Dartmouth. This is a 20-30 minute drive from the Victoria General Hospital site, and has free parking. There is also a ~3 month senior rotation in Saint John, NB where accommodation is provided in a building with other residents that is within walking distance of the hospital. Programs are also encouraged to facilitate rotations for residents within the Maritime Provinces but outside Halifax; rotations in community hospitals can provide residents with more graded responsibility and allow residents to explore different career opportunities.

How will I learn to do autopsies?

During a one-month rotation at the NS Medical Examiner Service in PGY1, you will be trained to eviscerate and dissect the organ block! Within the first week, you will be applying these new skills to cases with suspected medical cause of death (under supervision of course). Most residents complete around 10 autopsies during this block.

Is the training in AP subspecialty based?

At Dal, you can enjoy a 'hybrid' model of subspecialty and more general sign out. The PGY2 ‘junior AP’ and PGY5 ‘senior AP’ rotations include a group or pair of AP subspecialties (e.g. GI and H&N). Grouping subspecialties presents an opportunity for longitudinal learning. Residents are also taught by a few general surgical pathologists in Halifax, as well as during community rotations. In PGY3-5, residents rotate through individual subspecialty rotations and electives.

What organized social events are there?

Maritime Resident Doctors (MarDocs) organizes tons of free events to help you meet other residents and experience Halifax, including weekly exercise classes (yoga, bootcamp) and approximately one social event per month (axe throwing, paint night, post-exam socials, wine tour, holiday party, etc).

Think we’re a small residency program?

Think of us as double the size – anatomical plus general pathology (together currently 16 residents). Residents in both programs share resident rooms, academic half day, and organize social activities together.

Other questions?

Come meet us and ask!