Thoughts on the Pathology Job Market
By: Nat Pernick, M.D.
Revised: 8 September 2021
- Recently, there has been an explosion of pathologist job offerings, as shown by the Jobs page graph here. We currently have ~630 jobs posted compared to ~320 one year ago. Although our Jobs page is not a scientific survey of all pathologist job ads (some are posted elsewhere), it does indicate a real change in the job market. This is likely due to increased retirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic (seen in other fields) and a rebound from the previous delay in hiring (last year the pandemic decreased the need for pathologists by delaying elective surgery).
- Most non-academic jobs appear to fill within 2-3 months, although employers may want to keep the ad posted longer anyway. For academic positions, the hiring process may be much slower - it is difficult to know how long it takes to fill a position.
- Many employers do not know precisely what they want the new pathologist to do. They may have a single pressing need, but may tailor the job somewhat to the pathologist's other abilities. Thus, I think it is a mistake to look for a "perfect fit" based on a job advertisement.
- Some employers have indicated, for the first time, that they are having trouble filling positions. This is likely because of a demand / supply mismatch - pathologists are still entering the workforce at the same rate, despite the increased need. Eventually it will even out as employers adjust workloads (more pathology assistants or the equivalent, more clinical versus administrative time for pathologists, finding other ways to increase productivity).
- Although many institutions are anxious to hire, pathologists should NOT let this go to their heads. As I was told when I was new, we have to make ourselves valuable to our employers or they will let us go. If we are troublesome (complaining about working conditions, difficult to get along with) or causing potential legal problems (financial, harassment, ethical), they may let us go. All of us are replaceable, no matter how good we are.
- Pathologist job applicants should understand that there are tradeoffs in every position. Some of this relates to salary, benefits and contracts. As a (retired) attorney, I recommend that you review any contracts carefully, particularly if there is a noncompete provision, and consider hiring an attorney to assist you. Of course, nobody wants to spend money to do this, but considering that a pathologist pay package is $200K or more, it may be a good idea.
- The best way, in my opinion, to use the Jobs page is to start with your desired location or subspecialty to see what is out there, and then to review the summaries once or twice a week to see if there is anything new. You may have to send out a lot of emails before you get a response. In the past, some ads got 100+ inquiries.
- I recommend that all employers respond at least once to a job inquiry, and give a status update after an interview every 2 weeks, even if only a short email or text. However, many will not do this - don't take it personally. That's just the way it is!
Send me any comments at Nat@PathologyOutlines.com.