Training in pathology informatics: Implementation at the University of Pittsburgh

James H. Harrison, Jimmie Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Context. - Pathology informatics is generally recognized as an important component of pathology training, but the scope, form, and goals of informatics training vary substantially between pathology residency programs. The Training and Education Committee of the Association for Pathology Informatics (API TEC) has developed a standard set of knowledge and skills objectives that are recommended for inclusion in pathology informatics training and may serve to standardize and formalize training programs in this area. Objective. - The University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa) core rotation in pathology informatics includes most of these goals and is offered as an implementation model for pathology informatics training. Design. - The core rotation in pathology informatics is a 3-week, full-time rotation including didactic sessions and hands-on laboratories. Topics include general desktop computing and the Internet, but the primary focus of the rotation is vocabulary and concepts related to enterprise and pathology information systems, pathology practice, and research. The total contact time is 63 hours, and a total of 19 faculty and staff contribute. Pretests and posttests are given at the start and end of the rotation. Performance and course evaluation data were collected for 3 years (a total of 21 residents). Results. - The rotation implements 84% of the knowledge objectives and 94% of the skills objectives recommended by the API TEC. Residents scored an average of about 20% on the pretest and about 70% on the posttest for an average increase during the course of 50%. Posttest scores did not correlate with pretest scores or self-assessed computer skill level. The size of the pretest/posttest difference correlated negatively with the pretest scores and self-assessed computing skill level. Conclusions. - Pretest scores were generally low regardless of whether residents were familiar with desktop computing and productivity applications, indicating that even residents who are computer "savvy" have limited knowledge of pathology informatics topics. Posttest scores showed that all residents' knowledge increased substantially during the course and that residents who were computing novices were not disadvantaged. In fact, novices tended to have higher pretest/posttest differences, indicating that the rotation effectively supported initially less knowledgeable residents in "catching up" to their peers and achieving an appropriate competency level. This rotation provides a formal training model that implements the API TEC recommendations with demonstrated success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1025
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


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