Estimation of time of death
An estimation of the time of death is made by postmortem changes of the body. A very approximate rule of thumb for estimating the postmortem interval is as follows:
- Warm and flaccid: less than 3 hours
- Warm and stiff: 3 to 8 hours
- Cold and stiff: 8 to 36 hours
- Cold and flaccid: More than 36 hours.
Timeline of postmortem changes.[image 1]
- Image(s) by: Mikael Häggström et al. - using source images from multiple authors (full list is located at image page in Wikimedia Commons.
Attribution 4.0 International license
The most useful goal is arguably to become a subspecialist in a particular field within pathology, for which you can be a go-to person when other pathologists need help, and at the same time maintaining basic skills in handling general pathology, at least for the most common conditions where you are expected to practice. In either case, it is important to be able to extend beyond your comfort zone when needed, and at least try to solve cases that fall outside the official subspecialties of the pathologists at hand, even if you may need to search for someone to consult you for the case.
Judge subspecialties primarily by their presumed everyday work, and how well it fits with your personal strengths and weaknesses. As much as possible, base your evaluation on real life exposure to the practice, and put only minimal weight on how interesting the theoretical literature thereof is.
To some degree, consider whether you will want to live and work in (or commute to) a larger city (with more demand to dedicate yourself to a narrow-scoped subspecialty), or a relatively smaller town (with an increased demand for broader or otherwise generally needed subspecialties, mainly surgical pathology and cytopathology but mostly also hematopathology).
Strive to always begin with the real life situation in which the point you want to teach is relevant for improving the management of a patient. If you can't think of a situation where something would relevant, generally don't teach it. Also, present them with all pertinent information that you can readily look up or ask from fellow trainees.
If possible, teach by giving students tasks from real cases and present to you what they would do. Until you know a student better, assume that the person is uneducated enough to need to ask or look up how to do something, but at the same time smart enough to only study what is needed to perform the task, so a greater responsibility means a greater need to study.
When making MCQs, keep the presentation brief, with only little irrelevant and/or misleading information. Everyday pathology work offers enough practice in finding the relevant information among medical records, lab results etc.
Only expect memorization to what is memorization-worthy (see the Learning pathology chapter). Memorized does not mean teach-worthy; just because you've memorized something yourself doesn't automatically mean it's worthy of memorization for others.
Be selective in what research projects to start or join. Preferably only engage in a project that will likely result in something new and interesting, something that will stand out and make an impact among the approximately 100.000 pathology-related articles published each year.