General guidelines

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Author: Mikael Häggström [note 1]

General advice

  • When making a mistake, admit that you did it and learn from it so as to focus on not repeating it.
  • Say "I don't know" instead of making up answers for what you do not know.
  • Ask for help whenever needed, such as first time you are doing something, or whenever you are not sure about what to do, especially when doing something potentially irreversible. Also ask for help in moments whenever there is a high risk that you will not achieve what you need to do within a clinically acceptable time. Still, before asking, try to do as much as you can, as long as you do not do anything potentially irreversible, so that you can evaluate how you did it compared to the standard, and thereby know better how you will do it next time.
  • Try to fit findings with the clinical picture so that the report makes sense, but do not make up findings that you do not see, especially in cases where you copy-paste words from a previous report or template. At the same time, do not omit relevant features just to fit an expected story.
  • Do not wait for the whole pile. Whenever you can, do not be idle or do less urgent work while there is a pile of more urgent work gathering for you elsewhere. Instead, be familiar with where such piles are forming, and go there and grab whatever you may start working on right away.
  • For larger specimens that need fixation before final grossing, you can still start writing a report of measurements and other externally visible findings to save time for later.
  • Save your digital reports frequently.
  • Focus on learning pitfalls and the interpretation of visual patterns and other non-written results, and do not waste much time memorizing information that can essentially always be conveniently and timely looked up when needed (but have an idea of where to find it). Further information: Learning pathology
  • When ordering additional tests on an older sample, such as when wanting to compare it to a more current one, it is a courtesy to notify whoever reported on the older sample.


Further reading:


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.

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