Pathology Trainees’ Experience and Attitudes on Use of Digital Whole Slide Images

Joann G. Elmore, Hannah Shucard, Annie C. Lee, Pin Chieh Wang, Kathleen F. Kerr, Patricia A. Carney, Trafton Drew, Tad T. Brunyé, Donald L. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Digital whole slide images are Food and Drug Administration approved for clinical diagnostic use in pathology; however, integration is nascent. Trainees from 9 pathology training programs completed an online survey to ascertain attitudes toward and experiences with whole slide images for pathological interpretations. Respondents (n = 76) reported attending 63 unique medical schools (45 United States, 18 international). While 63% reported medical school exposure to whole slide images, most reported ≤ 5 hours. Those who began training more recently were more likely to report at least some exposure to digital whole slide image training in medical school compared to those who began training earlier: 75% of respondents beginning training in 2017 or 2018 reported exposure to whole slide images compared to 54% for trainees beginning earlier. Trainees exposed to whole slide images in medical school were more likely to agree they were comfortable using whole slide images for interpretation compared to those not exposed (29% vs 12%; P =.06). Most trainees agreed that accurate diagnoses can be made using whole slide images for primary diagnosis (92%; 95% CI: 86-98) and that whole slide images are useful for obtaining second opinions (93%; 95% CI: 88-99). Trainees reporting whole slide image experience during training, compared to those with no experience, were more likely to agree they would use whole slide images in 5 years for primary diagnosis (64% vs 50%; P =.3) and second opinions (86% vs 76%; P =.4). In conclusion, although exposure to whole slide images in medical school has increased, overall exposure is limited. Positive attitudes toward future whole slide image diagnostic use were associated with exposure to this technology during medical training. Curricular integration may promote adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAcademic Pathology
StatePublished - 2020


  • digital pathology
  • digital whole slide imaging
  • medical education
  • optical microscopy
  • pathology training
  • virtual microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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