Teaching high school students about pathology: Development of a secondary school-focused enrichment course in pathology and physiology

Joseph M. Rohr, Heidi N. Kaschke, Jaynie E. Bird, Ashlie M. Nelson, Geoffrey A. Talmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Although pathology is a central discipline in medicine, many do not understand the role of pathologists and laboratory professionals. While there are efforts to educate the public, few focus on precollege students. Methods: To define a curriculum exposing high school students to major concepts in health and disease, while introducing them to professions that employ this knowledge. A semester-long class was designed to meet for 2-hour sessions semiweekly. Each session included a lecture given by a pathologist followed by group activities including hands-on gross or virtual laboratory experiences and clinical simulations. Content included epidemiology, biostatistics, and the critical evaluation of health-related articles in the popular press. Students were evaluated by examination, group assignments, and a capstone research project presentation. Results: Over 4 years (2011-2014), 114 of 122 students completed the course with a "B" or better. By course conclusion, students could articulate the link between tissue changes and clinical phenotypes. Surveys showed that 90%of students found the course appropriately challenging, 98% found the class appropriate for their learning style, and the teaching methods and course content received 99% approval. Conclusions: We present a pathology course geared toward high school students that taught the foundations of human disease that allowed students to fully understand and engage in the material. Students felt that the knowledge earned was valuable and helped them to understand human health as well as inform their future career choices. This course could serve as a model for public outreach programs and for secondary and postsecondary educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-621
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Education
  • Informatics
  • Management/Administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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