Common Questions About...



Is there a cutoff for step 3 for IMG applications?

IMGs who have not met the examination requirements for ECFMG Certification by the Rank Order List Deadline CANNOT participate in the Match.

Will applicants be considered if exam results (eg COMLEX 2PE/STEP2 CS) will not be available until after rank list submission?

U.S. MD senior students are enrolled in a medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) at the time of the Match and are considered “sponsored applicants” in the Match by their medical schools.  U.S. DO senior students are enrolled in a medical school accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) at the time of the Match and also are considered “sponsored applicants” in the Match by their medical schools.  U.S. MD and DO senior students’ ability to participate in the Match is based on the graduation requirements of the sponsoring medical school, and US. MD and DO senior students can be withdrawn from the Match only by the sponsoring medical school.

The NRMP requires medical schools to verify the expected graduation date of every U.S. MD and DO senior registered for the Match. U.S. MD and DO seniors whose graduation credentials are not verified by their schools will be withdrawn by their schools. View details about verification of credentials for U.S. MD and DO medical school seniors.  All eligibility verification must be completed by the Rank Order List Certification Deadline in order for a U.S. MD or DO senior to participate in the Main Residency Match. 

Is COMLEX level 2 accepted in place of STEP 2CK?


What is our STEP 3 policy?


The department will pay the cost of taking the exam one time only.  Residents are strongly encouraged to take the exam by the end of their PGY1 year. 

If a resident fails to pass on the first attempt, he or she is responsible for paying the cost of subsequent attempts.  

Do we have specific STEP cutoffs?

We don’t have a specific Step score cutoff, but we look to see if you have any failed attempts. We prefer no failed attempts.


Can you talk about CP training in the program?

We do CP rotations at two sites: the Southern Arizona VA Health Care Centers (SAVAHCS) and Banner University Medical Center. At SAVAHCS, clinical path is set up as a general CP rotation, which covers all areas of CP and gives more of an idea of a smaller, generalized practice. At the University, CP rotations are broken down into hematopathology, clinical chemistry, microbiology and molecular pathology. Each of the services has its own daily duties and cases, including bench work on the relevant rotations, but the overall set-up in the lab is very collaborative, as many of the patients are shared between areas.



What is the surgical pathology schedule like?

Currently, our surgical pathology rotation functions on a 3 day cycle, as outlined below:


DAY 1 (S1):

  • In the gross room by 9:15, or by 8:00 am if not conference is scheduled
  • Grossing until your cases are done
  • Cover renal biopsies
  • Cover ciliary biopsies
  • Cover frozen sections with PAs
  • Lymphoma workups
  • Help pack the cooler at the end of the day

Fridays: Coordinate with Saturday resident on call to notify of stat biopsies to be seen and breast specimens to gross in; make sure Saturday histotech is aware of stat cases

DAY 2 (S2):

  • Sign out STAT cases
  • Biopsies and small specimens (labeled “STAT” at top of requisition) including renal
  • Heart and lung transplant biopsies to be signed out
  • Report to heart-lung transplant coordinator on call (page through Physicians’ Resources)
  • Receive consult cases to be signed out S3
  • Preview big cases and consults for S3 day

DAY 3 (S3):

  • Sign out big/consult cases
  • Follow up on pending S2 cases
  • Choose your complex cases for the following grossing day
  • Fill out frozen section worksheet for the next day and choose one with orientation needs and two small cases.

What is the surg path case diversity like?

Out location in southern Arizona affords us the opportunity to see cases from a wide variety of areas, including northern Mexico, which are referred to our center. We see a lot of common cases, but many rare entities as well, with very busy gynecologic oncology and ENT surgical services, among others.

Who teaches grossing, senior residents or PAs?

Grossing instruction is carried out primarily by our excellent PAs, though senior residents on service are heavily involved in the first couple of days to help new PGY-1s get acclimated to the system. Additionally, for complex cases, attendings are freely available to assist and advise as needed.

How is surg path sign-out structured? Generalized vs subspecialty

Surg path sign outs are mixed subspecialty – The attendings have an area of specialty and an assigned service, but all cases go to the resident regardless of service. The cases are then previewed and sorted by the resident and sign-out time is coordinated with the attending.



What are the ECFMG requirements for application given exam delays?

Under the terms of the Match Participation Agreement, to participate in the Match, IMGs MUST have passed all examinations required to obtain certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®). To begin training in a residency program, IMGs must have completed all ECFMG certification requirements and obtained ECFMG Certification. According to the ECFMG website, certification includes:

• passing scores on Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)* of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), and

• primary source verification of the IMG’s final medical school diploma and transcript.

IMGs who have not met the examination requirements for ECFMG Certification by the Rank Order List Deadline CANNOT participate in the Match.

Is there a cutoff for year of graduation?

We prefer that graduation be within the last 5 years, but we review all applications regardless.

What is the virtual interview format?

Candidates will meet with the Program Director, a CP Faculty member, an AP Faculty member, and one resident.

Do we review every application?


Electives, away electives policy?

Department will allow up to two away rotation electives in your residency.

Do you get enough exposure to all pathology subspecialties?

We have core rotations in all pathology subspecialties except for informatics. Residents are encouraged to use their elective time to explore areas of pathology in which they want more exposure.

What are some research opportunities for residents?

The Department of Pathology has many attendings who’s primary function is research, and they are happy to have resident assistance. Additionally, many of the clinically attendings have ongoing projects or can put residents in touch with other specialties who are looking for pathology input. There are also numerous opportunities for case reports and case series reviews, and all such scholarly activities are encourage by the faculty.

Have you lost any research funding with the pandemic?


How much technology is integrated? i.e. digital pathology, etc.

We currently do not have a digital pathology platform integrated into our clinical practice, but the hope is that we will have this soon. Resident have been able to use new and upcoming technologies, such as machine learning, in research settings.

What is call like? Combined AP/CP or separate?

AP/CP call is combined and taken as ‘home call’. Call days are split into weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and divided based on PGY year. PGY-1 residents take only weekday calls in first year, and don’t take call until they’ve had one surg path, one blood bank and one hemepath rotation. This is usually around January.

What is the forensics exposure?

We have an affiliated forensic pathology fellowship with is located at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (OME). The OME sees >200 autopsy cases a year and has full time forensic anthropologists who analyze skeletal remains. All residents are required to perform a one month rotation at the OME, usually during their PGY-3 or -4 year.

What fellowships are available at the program?

  • GI Pathology (applying for ACGME accreditation)
  • Hematopathology (ACGME accredited)
  • Forensic Pathology (ACGME accredited)

What fellowships do your residents go in to?

Outside of our in-house fellowships (GI, forensics and hemepath), our residents go on to many different specialties (transfusion medicine, cytopathology, surgical pathology) at many different institutions, including Yale, University of Washington, Stanford and UCLA.

What efforts/didactic activities exist in support of the transition from student to PGY1?

For July and August each year, our daily morning conference topics switch to ‘bootcamp’ topics; We discuss things like intro to grossing, intro to surg path, intro to peripheral blood smear, etc to help the new PGY-1 residents acclimate to the tasks they will be doing as well as to expose them to a variety of faculty members early on.

How was the transition from student to PGY-1?

I found the transition from a student to a PGY-1 pretty smooth, since in pathology I'm essentially still a student. I think the most difficult part is getting back into the groove of studying and time management after a relatively relaxed MS4 year. Another hurdle is figuring out how the programs and systems all work and the general workflow and expectations.

What kind of people do well in this program/what are you looking for in an applicant?

Our program is best suited to people who want to see a variety of different specialties and cases and those who want to have independent responsibility over their cases. Though we always have the attending support, residents are encouraged to take ownership of their cases, which makes for great learning! Residents in the program come from a variety of backgrounds, but all of them are friendly and hardworking!



What qualities do you look for in a co-resident?

Everybody works and learns better when the environment is collegial, so we (as residents), look for people who we feel will foster that atmosphere of learning. Our residents work closely together, so they are focused on people who are team players and happy to help each other out.

What makes this program special? Why did you choose this program?

This program is special because of the people involved in it. From our PAs, to our faulty, our coordinators, accessioners, support staff and everyone in between, everyone is friendly and focused on learning. We are not a very large department, so we get to know each other well, and those interpersonal relationships foster a wonderful and supportive environment

What is the work-life balance here?

Work-life balance in Tucson is, arguably, better than average. Our working-hours as residents are typically 8-5 (excluding busier services, i.e. heme path and surg path) and there is plenty to do outside of work. Tucson has excellent biking and hiking trails, mountains, canyons and, believe it or not, lakes in town or a short drive away. We also don’t work weekends, unless on call, so that leaves plenty of time for rest and recovery! Our attendings recognize that a burnt out brain doesn’t learn, and they are often encouraging residents to take advantage of cool events and outings that happen in Tucson throughout the year, like Tucson Meet Yourself and the many farmers markets and street fairs.

What’s it like living in Tucson? Cost of living, etc.

Cost of living in Tucson is similar to other southwestern states, with an average 2 bedroom apartment costing approximately $1,189 a month. In terms of living here, it’s hot! But as the Arizonans say, “it’s a dry heat.” The dry air really does make those more intense temperatures more bearable, and the desert landscape is unique and beautiful. Having said that, many apartment complexes and rentals come with a pool!

Here is some great information about living in Tucson: