Registrar Training

The  Department of Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology is situated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Sydney, 4.0km from the CBD. It is accredited for 4 years of anatomical pathology training with the RCPA.  There are currently 9.5 anatomical pathology training positions including subspecialty rotations.  Training is tailored to registrars’ career goals with ample opportunities for research and development of subspecialty expertise.

Supervision and mentorship

Catriona Mckenzie has 9 years’ experience as Director of Training and has a strong commitment to registrar education and well-being. In addition there are 13 trained college supervisors on site and pre-part 1 trainees are allocated an individual supervisor/ mentor.

Registrars are also allocated to pathologists each term in a subspecialty area for development of reporting skills.

Slide Seminar by International Head and Neck Pathology Expert - Dr Lester Thompson

Teaching and formal education sessions

There are tutorials most mornings between 8 and 9am during which experts in their field present a mixture of routine reporting, teaching set cases and consultation cases. There is a weekly intradepartmental scientific meeting. The department convenes the “Recent Advances in Pathology” series and will be running a course with MD Anderson and PathWest in 2019. International guests periodically present in the department.


Exam preparation

There are 6 experienced college examiners including the recent Chief examiner on site with a near 100% pass rate over the last 9 years. Registrars are given regular practice exams in the lead up to the exams as well as formal practice viva sessions.

Day to day training exposure

The department receives >50,000 histology specimens each year including consultation cases. 1,600 molecular cases are done each year and 7,000 cytology cases come through the department, including gynaecological cytology. We are closely affiliated with the neuropathology department. Fine needle biopsies, renal biopsies, liver biopsies, frozen sections and immunofluorescence are performed on site and trainees are easily able to fulfil their college portfolio requirements. 

Registrars on the general roster average 2 days of cut up each week with the remaining time being used for reporting, cytology, frozen sections, ancillary tests, handling fresh tissue, meeting preparation and portfolio tasks. Registrars in subspecialty rotations spend 50% of their time on the general roster and the rest of their time developing subspecialty expertise in dermatopathology or molecular pathology with protected time for research.

Research opportunities

Registrars are encouraged to take part in research projects and regularly present at the intradepartmental meeting, national meetings (Pathology Updates and IAP) and at international meetings including USCAP. The department produces over 80 publications a year and is able to support a range of registrar projects including higher degrees.

Teaching opportunities

Through its close affiliation with the University of Sydney registrars are able to participate in medical student teaching.

Subspecialty rotations

Our dermatopathology rotation with the Melanoma Institute of Australia provides an unparalleled opportunity to work closely with our award winning team of pathologists and researchers, participate in the work up of and learn from the cases that pose the greatest challenges to pathologists (more than external 2000 cases reviewed annually), learn about the pathologist's critical role in the multidisciplinary care of melanoma patients and participate in cutting edge research that is changing the field internationally. 

The molecular rotation provides a unique opportunity to develop skills in cutting edge somatic mutation testing techniques used extensively in the diagnosis and characterisation of a range of tumours including soft tissue neoplasms, lung cancers, melanomas, colon cancers, lymphomas and head and neck tumours. This popular optional rotation is usually undertaken for a 6 month period during the final year of training and provides an excellent opportunity for trainees to expand their diagnostic skills, participate in research projects and develop subspecialty expertise

Fellowship opportunities

There are currently 3 fellow positions at RPAH; 2 dermatopathology fellow positions with the Melanoma Institute of Australia and one in Head and Neck Pathology with the Chris O’Brien Life House.

Community and lifestyle

Registrars enjoy training in a collegiate atmosphere with social highlights including Friday Thai, the Great Bake Off and annual Christmas party. There are numerous cafes and restaurants in close proximity. The department is adjacent to the scenic University of Sydney Campus and is well serviced by public transport with a variety of accommodation options within walking distance.


Director of
Head of
Molecular subspecialty
Dermatopathology/ MIA subspecialty
Medical student
State AP training