New certification requirement for autopsies: few things to consider
The American Board of Pathology (ABPath) recently announced changes to the certification requirement for autopsies. The requirement now is 30 cases, effective immediately.
Previously, we highlighted the implications of declining number of autopsies for the Pathology residents.
The ABPath tried to answer some of these questions upfront in the announcement. In the official announcement it was stated that
Of course, some residents do better than others and some would be able to sign out an autopsy after 30 cases, but in author’s opinion most wouldn’t. Each autopsy is different, and it is extremely difficult to learn most of the nuances of the practice in just 30 cases.
Thirty autopsies can be far less, enough or even still too much. The numeric number is relative to a trainee’s perspective. Even with decline in autopsy numbers, quite a few programs still get enough autopsies. We discussed the level of interest, of the residents in autopsy service.
Finally, perhaps the residency programs can enforce their own requirements for graduation, but for that they will have to disclose this information during the recruitment process. It will be interesting to see how this affects recruitment. In author’s opinion, if the only difference in two equally rated programs is their autopsy number requirement, most residency candidates will prefer the program with least requirement.
Whereas, the new requirement will help the residents to be eligible for the board examination and will also help residency programs that are struggling to keep up their autopsy numbers, it will also impact the recruitment and quality of work.
1 The American Board of Pathology (ABPath). New certification requirement for autopsies [Internet]. Tampa, FL: ABPath; 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 31]. Available from:
2 Hamza A. Declining rate of autopsies: implications for anatomic pathology residents. Autops Case Rep. 2017;7(4):1-2.
3 Hamza A. Stance of pathology residents on declining number of autopsies. Autops Case Rep. 2018;8(1):e2018007.
4 Hamza A. Perception of pathology residents about autopsies: results of a mini survey. Autops Case Rep. 2018;8(2):e2018016.