Hematological 


PATHOLOGY

A Hidden Gem

Welcome to the Hematological Pathology Residency Program at the University of Alberta.

  • largest

    transfusion medicine service in North America

  • Numerous

    Longitudinal rotations to consolidate knowledge

  • Joint

    academic half day with clinical hematology

Interview/CaRMS Specific Information 

All interviews will be conducted virtually using Zoom or Skype as our interview platform.

Candidate applications are reviewed and scored separately by a small committee and this results in our offer to interview with us. 

Interviews will take place the week of March 8-12, 2021, with the primary date being March 9.

The virtual interviews will be a panel format with 4-6 interviewers. All panel members individually score and rank the candidates. Final ranking is decided by consensus.

While you are with us, you will:

  • Have a virtual welcome from our Program Directors
  • Have your panel interview

During the 1st iteration of the CaRMS 2021 match, the positions are reserved for Canadian medical school graduates from institutions accredited by the LCME. Our program will not be participating in the Alberta International Medical Graduate (AIMG) program during the 1st iteration of CaRMS 2021, but a candidate may be considered and accepted through AIMG if a position is still available after the 1st iteration of the CaRMS match. The Hematological Pathology program is registered with the AIMG program, and the AIMG program has a separate but parallel stream and funding for qualified International Medical school graduates. 

Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are graduates of non-LCME accredited medical schools who wish to pursue postgraduate medical training in Alberta are eligible to apply to CaRMS (2nd iteration) provided they have been assessed by the Alberta International Medical Graduate program (AIMG). Please refer to http://www.aimg.ca/ for the eligibility criteria and application process.

Contact Us

Hemtological Pathology Residency Program
Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Alberta

Dr. Bryony Walker
 
Program Director, Hematological Pathology
Bryony.Walker@albertaprecisionlabs.ca

Loretta Carroll  
Program Administrator
Loretta.Carroll@albertaprecisionlabs.ca

Dr. Kathleen Wong
CBME Lead
Kathleen.Wong@albertaprecisionlabs.ca


bryony walker

Dr. Bryony Walker
Program Director

kaathleen wong

Dr. Kathleen Wong
CBME Lead

Loretta Carroll
Program Administrator

Welcome to Our Program

This lesser known laboratory medicine specialty is a perfect blend of diagnostic testing, clinical collaboration, transfusion medicine, cutting edge molecular diagnostics and laboratory quality and management. In this evolving specialty, we enjoy the rich daily variety (and surprises) of our in-person or on-the-phone consultations with clinicians and lab technologists, the challenge and visual beauty of diagnostic morphology, the intellectual rewards and problem-solving detective work in coagulation and transfusion medicine, and integrating and applying cutting edge techniques such as flow cytometry, cytogenetics and molecular pathology to arrive at the most appropriate diagnosis and management plan for clinicians and patients. The resulting breadth and depth of hematopathology practice makes our daily work both interesting and rewarding.  

The Hematological Pathology residency training program is a 4-year post graduate medical education training program in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. Completion of this program leads to eligibility for certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Hematological Pathology. The RCPSC holds annual spring examinations in Hematological Pathology for which our residents are eligible in their final year of training. This training program, in this field of study is one of 4 in Canada and typically we have one or two residents enrolled per year.

Our Hematopathology program is fully accredited and well established with our graduates passing the Royal College first time and being welcomed as Staff in centers all around Canada.

Hematopathology at the UAH provides a longitudinal integrated residency program with exposure to adult and pediatric, tertiary and community pathology in one program. 

We have a large Zonal Transfusion Medicine service which gives excellent exposure and experience to our learners.

We have close clinical relationships and share resources and teachers with other lab specialties as well as adult and pediatric hematology for our academic half day and joint hematology rounds. Our training program is based at the University of Alberta hospital but  includes rotations at several facilities within the Edmonton area to gain a depth and breadth of hematopathology exposure. This includes several Alberta Health Services hospitals in the Edmonton zone, Canadian Blood Services and a private diagnostic laboratory, DynalifeDx.

Areas of focus

Our faculty have expertise and interests in a wide variety of fields within hematopathology including individuals with interest and expertise in Transfusion Medicine, Pediatric Hematopathology, Flow cytometry and Coagulation.

 

We are excited to meet you!

Dr. Bryony Walker 
Program Director
 


Our Program

We are a fully accredited program that follows the guidelines set out by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Our program is four years and covers all areas of hematopathology. Edmonton was one of the first hematopathology training programs in Canada and we have a long history of producing outstanding graduates with very high Royal College exam pass rates. We have alumni working across the country, which is great for networking!

hemepath collage
Program Highlights
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Large catchment area with high volume of cases, including both rare and common disorders

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Large, regional transfusion medicine service with longitudinal exposure throughout training

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Several months of protected time for research/scholarly projects, with extensive opportunities for both basic science and clinical research

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Close-knit department with excellent culture and working relationships

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Joint academic half day program with clinical hematology, pediatric hematology/ oncology and general pathology residents

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Includes comprehensive Introduction to Laboratory Hematology course

 
Program Supports
  • Dedicated faculty with frequent one on one teaching
  • Annual Royal College-style mock exams 
  • Multiple mentorship opportunities
  • Frequent feedback and assessment
  • Close relationship with Clinical Hematology colleagues
  • Flexible work hours
  • Advocacy and Wellness Office 
  • PARA
  • Residency Wellness Committee

Residency at a Glance

Learn about each year of the program with an overview of each year.

Year 1
  • 4 weeks General Internal Medicine
  • 16 weeks Adult Hematology at UAH (ward and consults)
  • 8 weeks Pediatric Hematology
  • 4 weeks Hematology Oncology at Cross Cancer Institute
  • 4 weeks Introduction to Transfusion Medicine 
  • 14 weeks Core Hematopathology (morphology, coagulation, transfusion)
  • 2 weeks Canadian Blood Services
Year 2
  • 21 weeks Core Hematopathology 
  • 8 weeks Community Hematopathology
  • 3 weeks Bone Marrow Transplant in Calgary
  • 4 weeks Molecular Pathology
  • 2 weeks Cytogenetics
  • 2 weeks Histocompatibility
  • 4 weeks Research
  • 4 weeks Elective
  • 4 weeks Lymphoma Pathology (flow cytometry)
Year 3
  • 12 weeks Research
  • 12 weeks Elective
  • 4 weeks Core Hematopathology 
  • 4 weeks Hemoglobinopathy
  • 4 weeks Lymphoma Pathology (flow cytometry)
  • 8 weeks Surgical Pathology
  • 8 weeks Lymphoma Pathology (lymph nodes)
Year 4
  • 24 weeks Core Hematopathology (Senior)
  • 8 weeks Community Hematopathology
  • 4 weeks Hemoglobinopathy
  • 8 weeks Lymphoma Pathology (lymph nodes)
  • 6 weeks Molecular/Histocompatibility/CBS refreshers
  • Royal College Exam in Spring of PGY-4
No call during the following rotations:
  • Pediatric hematology
  • Hematology Oncology at Cross Cancer Institute
  • Out of town electives
  • Lymphoma pathology
  • Bone marrow transplant in Calgary

Teaching Hospitals

We are a fully accredited program that follows the guidelines set out by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Our program is four core years spent in general pediatrics at multiple locations.

University of Alberta Hospital 
The “Home Base” for hemepath residency in Edmonton, where the bulk of our training takes place.

Royal Alexandra Hospital 

Stollery Children's Hospital 

Grey Nuns Community Hospital

Misericordia Community Hospital 

Cross Cancer Institute

Dynalife Medical Labs

Foothills Medical Centre
Three week bone marrow transplant rotation in Calgary during PGY-2.

UAH and STARS helicopter

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people choose hematopathology as a career?
While this can be an individual choice, there are few common themes among hematopathologists as to why they chose their field. Hematopathology is regarded as one of the most clinical areas of lab medicine; we truly need full clinical correlation to come to our diagnoses, and are often working very closely with clinical colleagues in real-time. In addition to our diagnostic roles, we provide a consultative service to clinicians in all areas of medicine, including hematology, oncology, internal medicine, anesthesiology, critical care, and surgery. Although morphology is important in hemepath, we definitely do not spend our whole day looking under the microscope! Hematopathology requires the integration of many ancillary tests, including flow cytometry, cytogenetics, and molecular studies, to augment our morphologic impression and provide complete diagnostic information to clinicians. Essentially, every case is a puzzle with many pieces, and we love solving them!
Do I need to do a fellowship after residency training?

Although fellowships are generally not required for employment after a hematopathology residency, some potential areas of special interest are:

  • Transfusion Medicine (Royal College Area of Focused Competence diploma available)
  • Coagulation
  • Flow cytometry
  • Lymphoma pathology
  • Molecular pathology
  • Hemoglobinopathies
  • Immunology/autoantibody testing
  • Medical education
What is hematopathology call in Edmonton like?

We have a city-wide call group that is split into two services; transfusion medicine and non-transfusion (ie. morphology and coagulation). Both are home call so you will never again need to sleep in a hospital after your PGY-1 clinical rotations are finished! The majority of issues for both services can be managed remotely, so you will rarely need to return to hospital after hours.  As per PARA guidelines for home calls, we do a maximum of 1 in 3 call, generally 7 nights per 4-week block. These are split between the two call services so that we maintain regular exposure to all areas. There is always a staff person on with you for support and they are happy to hear from you whenever you have questions, even in the middle of the night!

What are the biggest challenges the program/profession faces?
The constant pressure to do more with less  is a major challenge in hematopathology (and in most other areas of lab medicine as well). Staying at the forefront of the technology and research while working within a government funded framework can be difficult at times. Thankfully, we have strong leadership in our department who advocate to optimize patient care and, in turn, this creates ample opportunities for quality improvement initiatives that residents can get involved in.
Why do you go to Calgary for bone marrow transplant (BMT)?

The centralization of health care services in Alberta resulted in the majority of solid organ transplants being performed in Edmonton, while all allogeneic stem cell transplants in the province are done in Calgary. Only autologous stem cell transplants take place in Edmonton. In order to fulfill Royal College training requirements for BMT, we spend 3 weeks at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary rotating through the BMT ward and doing outpatient BMT follow-up clinics. As this is a mandatory rotation, accommodations and transportation are paid for by the University of Alberta.

The program seems small; do residents get lonely?
While we are a small program with about 4-5 residents at any given time, we have a very centralized hematopathology service in Edmonton which keeps us together at the University of Alberta Hospital much of the time. In addition to our shared Academic Half Day program, we have other learners constantly rotating through the department including residents from Adult Hematology, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and General Pathology, so we get to know each other very well. This also provides a great opportunity to learn from each other’s different perspectives.
What are some common complaints in your specialty?

There are not enough of us, so we all have a lot to do!  The silver lining though is that there are positions available across the country for graduating residents.

Alumni from the Edmonton program have worked/are working in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, and Halifax!  Some have even pursued additional fellowship training in the U.S. before beginning their staff positions.  Instead of having traditional contact with patients through histories and physical exams in the hospital or outpatient clinics, we encounter them through bone marrow biopsies, under the microscope during blood film and bone marrow reporting, and discussions at coagulation and transfusion medicine rounds.  Since we do not see or admit patients in the traditional sense, this also means we do not have to worry about things like lack of clinic or operating room time or space, or the lack of hospital beds to admit patients, etc.

What are the varieties of lifestyles within your field?

Options are academic practice or community-based hospital practice or private laboratory practice. There are a number of hematopathologists in Edmonton who work part time and the majority has families and children.  Some spend part of their time doing clinical/translational research.  Others work with Canadian Blood Services to oversee the blood collection, processing and testing of donors. Some hematopathologists confine their practice to one or more areas of hematopathology or have a specialty interest in a specific area.

Some examples of affiliated subspecialties in which hematopathologists might work include coagulation, flow cytometry, molecular pathology, histocompatibility/immunology, and transfusion medicine. Lymphoma pathology, pathology informatics, and medical education are also subspecialty areas where hematopathologists are active.

What is the range of incomes?

The payment structure varies considerably as does the range of income depending on the province. Some hematopathologists are on salary – paid by a hospital or health region.  In some provinces (not including Alberta), there is a fee schedule similar to the schedule of medical benefits used in clinical practice but involving lab testing procedures.  Hematopathologists in private practice in these provinces may bill “fee for service” and their income will depend on the volume and complexity of lab testing performed.  Some work under a contract for services wherein they are paid by a hospital, health authority or government agency for providing a range of laboratory consulting services.

Generally across the country, annual income would vary from a low of ~$200,000 to a high of about $400,000 per year for full time work. On call payment and consulting fees or honoraria for teaching and other services may also be paid in some jurisdictions

What are you looking for specifically in an impressive candidate?
  • clear demonstration of knowledge, interest, or aptitude for residency training and a career in hematopathology
  • professional and personal maturity
  • aptitude for the specialty by demonstrating the ability to learn, understand and apply new knowledge to clinical patient care quickly 
  • insight and reflective practice, with the ability to adapt to and act on constructive feedback
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • superb interpersonal, collaboration and teamwork skills
  • self-motivation and direction for proactive learning; showing initiative to learn and contribute to the program and specialty

Resident Testimonials

We asked our residents what they like about Edmonton, their highlights of the program, and one piece of advice for applicants about the interview process. Here is what a few of them had to say.
sophia peng

What do you like about Edmonton: Edmonton has all the amenities of a big city, without the extreme hustle and bustle (crowds, traffic, etc.) of a big city. Pre-covid, there are always festivals in the summer, and amazing outdoorsy opportunities all seasons. If you're buying (and you will be able to here), pet-friendly places close to city centre are affordable, with plenty of off-leash trails along the gorgeous river valley. The restaurant, brewery, and entertainment scene is always evolving so you'll be certain to find new and exciting hangouts.

What are the highlights of the program for you: The tight-knit program allows you to develop family-like relationship with fellow residents and staff, while still getting enough opportunities to interact outside the lab and develop good working relationship with other pathologist or clinicians (including those in training - many have long rotations through our service). A lot of the staff are internal graduates, and are interested in teaching and supporting learners. The program also boasts a one of a kind longitudinal transfusion medicine exposure.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process: You are in weird pandemic times, but don't let some of the necessary adjustments get you down. Everybody understands and is actively making the best out of these unique times. Think about it, what other opportunities will you get to do a whack-load of interviews in your pajamas?! I remember how scary CaRMS was, but remember, the programs want you as much as you want them. So don’t be afraid to ask them the hard questions back, after-all, CaRMS was meant for YOU to find YOUR best fit.

Sophia Peng (PGY-3)
danielle meunier

What do you like about Edmonton: I find the people in Edmonton are very friendly. It is easy to become part of the community. Also, the river valley is a total gem. The extensive park system is such a unique feature. I love that I can go down into the valley and forget that I am even in the city.

What are the highlights of the program for you: We have very busy, centralized hematopathology (HP) and transfusion medicine (TM) services which serve the entire Edmonton zone as well as northern Alberta. Most of your time as an HP resident in Edmonton is spent at the U of A hospital, however the cases come in from all over the zone. One major difference from other centres is that our main children's hospital is integrated into the U of A hospital so we deal with both adult and paediatric cases on a daily basis. The HP staff in Edmonton are fantastic and are always willing to teach. Given the nature of HP/TM and the general lack of exposure in medical school, the staff are aware that residents are starting with only very basic knowledge of the specialty. As such, they are very supportive and always available for help.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process: For the interviews, just be yourself! We are a down-to-earth group and place a high emphasis on choosing someone who will work hard and mesh well with the group. If you have a genuine passion for hematopathology, this is sure to shine through.

Danielle Meuner (PGY-3)
danielle anderson

What do you like about Edmonton: I was born and raised in Edmonton so I might be a little biased but I think Edmonton is a wonderful place to live. It does get cold in the winter but it's really not that bad. We have so many fun things to do outdoors in the winter... my favourite winter activities are ice fishing, skating, snowshoeing and skiing. We are fairly close to the mountains and we have amazing parks right outside of the city such as Elk Island National Park. We also have the River Valley right in the city which is beautiful. In the summer we have festivals nearly every weekend (pre-covid of course but we'll get back there eventually). The housing market is very affordable, if living near the university or downtown is your scene, that is totally doable here.

What are the highlights of the program for you: The Hematopathology Program at the U of A is a small and close-knit group which allows for a lot of one-on-one opportunities with staff. The staff are very approachable, supportive and committed to teaching. We work closely with the hematology staff and fellows through our clinical rotations in PGY1 and they are very supportive as well. We get early access to bone marrow biopsies in first year and the opportunity for extra bone marrow clinics later on to improve our skills. After our clinical rotations in first year, all call is home call (and it is true home call).

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process: CaRMS interviews are inherently uncomfortable and everyone is a little bit awkward. Don't be too hard on yourself as you go through the process. Remember that you are trying to learn about the programs and interview them as well so ask questions and try to find a program that you think you will fit well into.

Danielle Anderson (PGY-1)
sima zolfaghari

What do you like about Edmonton: I love the seasonal activities each season has to offer, such as going for bike rides around river valley during the summer to cross country skiing on different trails in the city during the winter. I also really enjoy visiting and shopping in the biggest mall in Canada. Although with COVID-19 and it's restrictions in place, I have not been able to experience many of the great activities and events this year, I am excited to explore them after the pandemic in the years to come.

What are the highlights of the program for you:  This program has many amazing professors that are caring, dedicated to our learning, and value our mental well-being. They are very knowledgeable and are pioneers in many of the new advances in their field. Also, there is a strong sense of companionship between the residents, and I got great guidance and support from my senior residents from the very beginning of my residency. The synergy between Hematological Pathology and Clinical Hematology programs allow for us to establish a strong basis in Hematology and provides a significant opportunity for our learning. In addition, there are numerous opportunities to interact with other clinicians, laboratory staff, and adult and pediatric hematology fellows that highly enrich our training.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process: The interview process, although nerve-wracking, can be enjoyable and memorable. Getting to know the staff and answering questions can feel like a conversation and you will feel more relaxed when you see the friendly interviewer's faces and start to talk to them. Be authentic and show your passion for the field, and you will shine.

Sima Zolfaghari (PGY-1)
youness

What do you like about Edmonton: I have lived in Edmonton my whole life. Edmonton is a great city with many opportunities for skating and other activities.

What are the highlights of the program for you: One thing I love about HP is the variety; no two rotations are the same.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process: My advice for new residents is that life is too short to take seriously, so try to enjoy every step of the process!

Youness Elkhalidy (PGY-4)