Anatomical Pathology

Understanding disease

As an anatomical pathology resident, throughout this five-year program you will gain the knowledge, skills and attributes required to study various aspects of disease and how it affects a patient’s organs. You’ll also have all the experience you need for specialty certification from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

This field includes subspecialties that focus on organ systems, specific laboratory methods—like cytopathology and immunopathology—and particular types of clinical cases.

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 Health Centre, 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. 

What you’ll learn

This residency program is for 5 year(s)

Program length of training does not exceed the Royal College or College of Family Physicians of Canada standard.


The first year for Anatomical Pathology is a basic clinical year.  The purpose is to provide a background similar to that provided by the rotating internship in the past.  The year consists of thirteen 4-week rotations that may be in any of the hospitals listed under Dalhousie University. 

The year starts with a 4-week orientation block in Anatomical Pathology.  

Required content includes the following blocks:

  • General Medicine (2 blocks)
  • Surgery (2 blocks)
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Gynecological Oncology
  • Clinical Hematology
  • General Pediatrics
  • Subspecialty Pediatrics (usually Peds GI)
  • Hematopathology 
  • Selectives (3 blocks)

PGY2 through PGY5

The PGY2 year consists of a core experience in Surgical and Autopsy Pathology at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.  During the following 36 months, the resident will fulfill the remaining RCPS(C) requirements for a residency in Anatomical Pathology.  There are 12 week subspecialty rotations in Neuropathology, Cytopathology and Pediatric Pathology.  The Forensic Pathology rotation is undertaken in one of the senior years and is eight weeks in duration.  There is a required 12-week Anatomical Pathology rotation at the Saint John Regional Hospital (a large, regional hospital in New Brunswick).  This serves as a senior resident rotation in the PGY4 or 5 year.  Accommodation is provided.  The remaining months involve additional training in Anatomical Pathology, including mandatory training in Molecular Pathology and senior Cytopathology, senior Anatomical Pathology and a senior Cardiac/Liver/Kidney biopsy rotation.  In appropriate circumstances, up to one year of the program can be outside Anatomical Pathology and could include training in another branch of the laboratory, in research or in a clinical field.


The program requires each resident to engage in at least one well-designed research project.  Opportunities for this exist in both basic scientific and clinical realms and a resident research representative is in place to provide support and guidance for this activity.  The resident is expected to present this research at the annual Departmental Research Day, CAP (or other appropriate conference), and to attempt to publish the data.  Financial support is provided for PGY2 through PGY5 residents to attend a conference annually at which they are presenting a paper or poster.  Residents are required to present a poster or platform presentation at the annual departmental research day in PGY2 through PGY4.

Program Highlights

  • Relatively small program (currently 7 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 orientation month in PGY1&2
  • 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 3 Forensic pathologists and Pediatric pathology rotation at the IWK with 4 Pediatric pathologists
  • Research opportunities – residents are productive; several have received research grants and/or research awards
  • All pathologists’ offices and both frozen section labs have at least a dual teaching head; several rooms have multihead teaching microscopes including an 18-head teaching microscope
  • The Saint John 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 the 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 program director who cares about each resident and facilitates all of the residents reaching their full potential.

Where you'll learn

Training Sites

  • QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, NS
  • IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS
  • NS Medical Examiners Office, Dartmouth, NS
  • Saint John Regional Hospital, Saint John, NB

Each training site has one or more resident rooms and access to the internet, scanners, and appropriate software, etc.  Residents have ready access to high quality digital cameras with dedicated computer and imaging software and a digital slide scanner.

Specific Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Resources

The Anatomical Pathology/QEII libraries contain up-to-date printed and/or electronic text books and journals, as well as sophisticated electronic conference equipment including an LCD projector with attached computer, microscope and monitors.  An 18 head Olympus microscope in the AP Division at the QEII; a 10 head Nikon microscope with attached imaging cameras is available in the HP Division.  

How to apply

Residents are selected through the Canadian Resident Matching Service. Detailed program selection criteria, application timelines, and up-to-date program information can be found at

Contact information

Program director: Dr Gillian Bethune

Residency Program Coordinator: Katie Weakley