Chief Residents Welcome

Dear prospective resident applicants,
Welcome to the Pathology Residency Training Program at Wake Forest School of Medicine! Thank you for taking time to learn more about our program. Allow us to share with you some of the highlights of our program from a resident’s perspective, to help make your process of choosing a residency program a bit easier.
Our surgical pathology department sees a high volume of interesting cases, ranging from biopsies to complex cancer resections. Resident education is prioritized during our time in the OR pathology lab: our wonderful physician assistants work one on one with residents to help in our training and educational cases are set aside for residents to gross. Residents have dedicated preview time and are actively encouraged to participate during sign-out. As a resident, you have graduated responsibility to work-up cases, which allows one to establish confidence and be prepared for independent practice. With the support of expert faculty, we present in multidisciplinary tumor boards and are involved in consultation with clinicians. 

We also have exceptional training in autopsy pathology under the supervision of 6 expert forensic pathologists. Wake Forest Baptist is part of the medical examiner system, allowing residents to see a high volume of forensic cases. Residents gain graduated independence from performing common drug overdose cases and complicated homicide cases to hospital cases with multiple comorbidities. 

On the cytology rotation, residents are taught to perform fine needle aspirations with back-up from our knowledgeable faculty and experienced cytotechnologists. Residents obtain diagnostic skills through exposure to a large volume and diverse cytology cases.  In clinical pathology we take an active role in the laboratories and we interact with clinicians regarding a wide range of topics and use our clinical skills to recommend laboratory tests, explain abnormalities and report critical values. As in anatomic pathology, we always have expert faculty available for consultation when necessary. 

Our program realizes that everyone is unique and allows us to tailor our training to fit our career goals. We have elective rotations early on to allow residents to do research and quality improvement projects, and to acquire additional exposure to subspecialties. Away rotations are also possible if residents are interested. With ample support for scholarly activities from faculty, our residents are able to present their original research at local and national conferences. Financial support to attend these conferences is provided by the Department. Many residents stay at Wake Forest for fellowships (Cytology, Dermatopathology, Forensic Pathology, Hematopathology, and Surgical Pathology) and faculty positions but they also are able to obtain competitive fellowships in other areas should they choose to leave. 

Another important aspect of our program that deserves mentioning is the amazing collegiality among residents and faculty. We are proud of the fact that our program incorporates people with diverse backgrounds, goals, strengths, academic and clinical interests, which is an invaluable resource to our current training and future career. Residents habitually spend time together outside of work, for example at the yearly welcome party organized by Dr. Rosenthal, at the yearly Fourth of July barbecue, and at other events. There are always people available if you have a question about a situation, need second opinion on a diagnosis, have to switch calls, or just want to take a coffee or lunch break. It really makes life easier when you have the support of your fellow residents. Of note, we really enjoy the personal workspace provided for residents, cubicles for first year residents and individual offices for all upper level residents with microscopes, double-screen computers, and cameras for everyone.

In addition, Winston-Salem is an amazing place to live. This medium-sized city, with a population of about 250,000, has the perfect balance of having everything you could need, while also feeling like a small town. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this city and nearby community: beautiful trails around mountains and lakes to hike and bike, diverse restaurants and bars to enjoy, live music venues, sporting events, museums, parks, and great schools for kids. We are 30-40 minutes away from Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock state parks. We are also a short drive to the Great Smoky Mountains, the beach, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Charleston. The expense of living at Winston Salem and surrounding cities is low. It is affordable to purchase a house with a resident’s salary and quite a few of us chose to be home owners during residency.  The closest airport (Greensboro) is only a half hour drive. Most of us live in the nearby community (some in the same apartment building!), so it is easy to get together outside of work to build on friendships started in the workplace. 
There is more we can tell you why we think Wake Forest is an outstanding place to train for a career in pathology. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us and we would love to tell you more about our program. We look forward to meeting you soon!

Tawfeq Naal, MD and Elena Fenu, MD
Chief residents 2021-2022