Scoping COVID-19: You're Still On Mute
Blog Posted: Oct. 7, 2020

As we continue our series Scoping COVID-19, we are now going to take a look at how remote pathology education has soared during the pandemic. Social distancing and stay at home orders had a profound effect on medical school education. There was no watch and wait; there was a dedicated mass response on behalf of pathology to keep pathology education moving onward and upward. If you haven’t already, be sure to read part one of this series about a pathology resident on the frontlines of COVID-19 and part two about how workflows changed during the peak of the pandemic.

One of the greatest changes of this pandemic for physicians and medical students has been transitioning from in-person meetings, classes and conferences to virtual platforms of every variety. For many, this transition has been highly efficient. Dr. Julie Feldstein (@feldstej), a hematopathologist at Mount Sinai, feels she saves hours each day now that her meetings are held virtually. “It’s pretty amazing how things have changed. The pathology department is in a separate building as the surgical building. People used to have to go to different buildings. Since COVID-19 everyone has been zooming in for tumor boards as well as resident and fellow sign outs,” she said. Residents are benefiting greatly from the shift to video platforms. “The silver lining is that more trainees can Zoom in to interesting case conferences than would otherwise be able to go in person. Learning is enhanced. A lot of conferences and small meetings were opened up to residents so they can Zoom in to different sessions. They are able to see a lot more,” explained Dr. Liza Quintana (@LizaMQuintana), breast pathologist and cytopathologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

With many institutions delaying lectures, the desire for educational endeavors remained steadfast. This desire and need for pathology education spurred the creation of a virtual lecture series offered by College of American Pathologists (CAP). “Many CAP junior members found their training programs affected by their institution's COVID-19 response. To help them, the CAP provided a virtual program consisting of great lectures given by Fellows of the College of American Pathologists (FCAPs)," explained Dr. Patrick Godbey (@PatGodbeyMD), CAP president. In our blog post, #CAPVirtualPath: Reimagining Education in the Midst of COVID-19, we cover just how prolific #CAPVirtualPath became. Read more about CAP’s (@Pathologists) virtual pathology lecture series here. CAP’s lectures were just the beginning for what pathology education had in store during the peak months of COVID-19.

“The real positive has been in the education arena like CAP’s virtual pathology lectures. There was significant buy-in from the start. Also, resources like PathElective (@PathElective) and PathPod (@PathPod) have seen a real boost,” said Dr. Michael Arnold (@MArnold_PedPath), Medical Director of Anatomic Pathology at Children’s Hospital Colorado. PathElective, founded by Dr. Kamran Mirza (@KMirza), Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education at Loyola Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Dr. Cullen Lilley (@cullen_lilley), MD/MA candidate at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, was first introduced to a small group of students at Loyola when medical education had become stagnant due to COVID-19. PathElective brings the pathology elective experience to any interested med student with lectures and cases crowdsourced and curated by globally recognized pathology leaders. Dr. Rifat Mannan (@mannanrifat03), Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and Dr. Emilio Madrigal (@EMadrigalDO), Director of Cytopathology Informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital, established the virtual online lecture resource pathCast (@pathologyCast) in 2016. They ramped up the number of lectures presented once COVID-19 hit. Dr. Rifat Mannan explained, “Pre-COVID-19 we did an average of two lectures per month, about 24 lectures per year. We started ramping up lectures beginning in April. From April to September, we’ve done a total of 48 lectures.” With lectures from all specialties and given by presenters all over the globe, pathCast has solidified its stake in the virtual learning community. Here are just a few presentations you can expect to find on pathCast:

So what does all of this virtual learning mean for double and multihead scoping? Traditionally, it is the bread and butter of pathology education. In March, Dr. John Gross (@JMcMahonG) was a surgical pathology fellow at Mayo Clinic. “For double scoping, the attending was allowed to choose what to do. Some pathologists were okay with just a mask, others wanted to be at least 6-feet apart while some pathologists were only comfortable with using Zoom,” he told us. “The Zoom teaching is different but not inferior to in person. I think remote learning is here to stay.”

All of this online and remote learning is exciting for digital pathology as lessons, slides, images from the microscope, etc. are now being viewed increasingly over a computer monitor. Moving from the microscope to a digital pathology system may not be too far in the distance as we hone our technology skills and skills analyzing slides and images over the computer. One-hundred percent of the pathologists we interviewed participated in remote sign out or some form of remote case review (tumor board, lectures, etc.). Pathologists universally experienced the benefits of remote workflow. We wonder if this will fuel momentum toward digital pathology adoption. Dr. Rifat Mannan expressed it perfectly when he said, “Everyone has to change the way we were used to learning. There needs to be a change in mentality. We have to accept the new normal, then try to innovate.” Be ready because in part four we dig deeper into digital pathology and the pandemic.

The rate and vigor at which pathology adapted is something other specialties can learn from. When even a global pandemic can’t stop pathology education, and instead spurs it to greater heights, is admirable but not surprising. Pathology has continued to be a leader in medical education with many resources available for med students and students of pathology:

While there’s still the occasional bug we all run into when utilizing video platforms -- “you’re still on mute”, “we can’t see you”, it’s clear remote learning is here to stay and pathology education will continue to thrive.

Built on the vision of better patient outcomes, Instapath was founded in 2017 by engineers and scientists to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis. Our team made it our mission to develop fast and easy digital pathology technology so diagnosis can be made in minutes instead of days. To learn more about Instapath and our technology, visit https://instapathbio.com/tech/ or contact us at info@instapathbio.com.

Mei Wang Mei Wang, Ph.D. | CEO at Instapath
Tags:  COVID-19 remote-learning