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Lab Manual for UCSF Clinical Laboratories

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Surgical & Autopsy Pathology (150.03)

General Elective Information

Anatomic Pathology at Moffitt.  The student examines and dissects surgical specimens from the ORs, prepares tissues for histopathological examination, and sits at the microscope with attendings for signout.  Students observe the intraoperative consultation process for gross orientation and frozen section preparation.  Students spent half a day in fine needle aspiration (FNA) clinic at Mt Zion Hospital and also observe an autopsy in the Moffitt morgue.  All activities are supervised.  Path 150.03 is also available as a 2-week or 4-week subspecialty elective for students with prior pathology experience.  Past subspecialty choices have included liver/GI pathology and neuropathology.  Permission of the course director is required to take this elective whether as a general or subspecialty course. 

Contact Information


Pathology faculty at Moffitt and Zion hospitals

Information for visiting students



Tier 2. This elective is designed for students seriously considering a career in diagnostic pathology. This elective provides hands-on experience in the practice of pathology at an academic medical center. Students interested in fields such as surgery and ob/gyn will understand how pathology interfaces with other disciplines to contribute to patient care. The elective focuses on diagnostic surgical pathology, with the student playing an active role in grossing clinical cases and preparing tissues for microscopic examination with an attending physician. Students observe frozen section preparation and ancillary techniques such as lymph node dissection for flow cytometry. Students are required to attend departmental Resident Teaching Conferences and Autopsy Gross Conference. Additional organ-specific tutorials are scheduled throughout the month. By the end of the 4-week elective, the student will have completed a sub-internship experience in surgical pathology in a high-volume academic medical center.

Path 150.03 is also available as a 2-week or 4-week subspecialty elective for students with prior pathology experience. Past subspecialty choices have included liver/GI pathology and neuropathology. Contact the course director if interested in an advanced subspecialty opportunity.

Course Objectives

By the end of the rotation, the student will:

  • Understand the diagnostic surgical pathology process from frozen section preparation to clinical signout.
  • Be able to evaluate and process surgical specimens under supervision.
  • Understand the role of fine needle aspiration cytology in clinical diagnosis.
  • Understand the role of the autopsy in medical diagnosis.

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Common Problems/Diseases

Through daily case specimens, the student will participate in a variety of pathology cases from organ systems including liver/GI, breast, male/female reproductive and genitourinary tracts, neuro, pulmonary, and renal.

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Recommended Text or Reading

Background reading in Robbins Pathology (8th ed, 2010) or similar general pathology text is expected to have been completed during medical school. Focused reading in diagnostic surgical pathology texts and the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual is required as pertinent to the daily work.

Team Composition

On Surgical Path, students will function on a team with a resident and will be supervised by residents, fellows, and an attending pathologist. On Cytopath, the student will observe an attending physician. On Autopsy, the student will observe a team of 1-2 residents and an attending.

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Additional Information

Call Schedule/Weekends

The workday runs from 8 am-5 pm weekdays; there is no night or weekend call assigned.




Fourth-year standing and completion of the core clerkships.

Quarters Taught

Su 2, Fa, Wi, Sp


Parnassus (Moffitt Hospital)

Minimum Weeks Offered

4 (2 for subspecialty experiences)

Maximum Students per Block

2 (discretion of course director)

Contact Name

  • Raga Ramachandran, MD, PhD
  • (415) 476-1194

Location to report to



This course is not offered in summer block 1. August - December offered only to students who are considering applying in pathology.

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