Updated: Aug 31, 2021
All around the world the nomber of doctors who are pathological specialists is declyning. But the need for their work is actually on rise.
How many pathologists per person are there?
A research conducted in Germany shows worrying statistics. In Germany there is 1 pathologist per 49,789 citizens. Some European countries show a better ratio, like In Island, with 1 pathologist per 14,309. But in Poland for example there is only 1 pathologist per 63,028 citizens. In the USA it is 25,325 per pathologist. This tendency is not new. Professor Ruth-Shako Levi from Soroka hospital in Beer-Sheba, Israel attributes the decline in a bad reputation that this profession intales. Young medical students don't find the field appealing. There is a confusion between forensic medicine that includes autopsies and fidings after death, and pathological diagnosis that is performed on cells and tissues and is done for medical treatment.
Dr. Miriam Konichezky, medical manager of L.E.M laboratory of pathology and histology in Nes Ziona, Israel explains that in the past, there was a lot of use of autopsies in pathological diagnosis. With time and developement of medical technology such as MRI and PET CT, autopsies were left for forensic medicine only. Young medical students don't like to choose specialization in pathology because they feel it does'nt include doctor-patient relationships and it takes them away from the "real" medicine practicing, depriving them from the satisfaction of helping patients. Even though that is excactly what pathologists do- help patients, but they do it behind the scenes and don't enjoy the appriciation directly from patients, that in most cases they never meet. Pathologists work mainly with physicians, providing them with crucial information regarding their patients. Some pathologists also meet with the patients themselves, helping them find ways to deal with comlex medical situations.
Early detection of cancer
A considerable portion of pathological work is early detection of cancer and other diseases. Skin cancer, bowel cancer, cervical cancer and many more are found with simple tests that can save lives. Some of the types of cancer are slow developing and early detection, performed on a regular basis as part of routine checkups or if there is a suspicion, enable fast treatment and better recovery chances.
Is digital pathology the answer? or better PR?
As the population grows and the life expectancy gets longer, the need for a solution becomes more urgent. One path is investing in Digital Pathology, saving precious working time and enabling Artificial Intelligence pathological deciphering.
In Germany medical health factors are considering improving the PR of the profession, finding ways to incourage young students to choose this path by shortening the long training period (6 years in Germany) and completing the training in private institutions providing the institutes with financial compensation.