7 June 2019: Meet the editor - Dr. Raul S. Gonzalez
Please introduce yourself
I am a
surgical pathologist specializing in gastrointestinal pathology. I’m an
Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Associate Director
of Gastrointestinal Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
I’m also the Membership Chair for the Rodger C. Haggitt Gastrointestinal
Pathology Society (GIPS).
Why did you become a pathologist?
shadowed physicians in several different specialties while in medical
school, and everything clicked during my day with a pathologist. I had
considered other fields, but after that experience, my mind was made up.
What do you like most about being a pathologist?
the pace of pathology. In general, if I need to spend a lot of time on a
difficult case, I can do that. I can grab a textbook off the shelf, get
opinions from colleagues, and ponder as I put my report together. This
naturally lends itself to academic inquiry and teaching opportunities as
What is special about your subspecialty?
I love both the variety and the volume of gastrointestinal
pathology. It’s one of the busiest services in our department, so there
is always plenty of material to tackle and learn from. Plus, we deal
with about a dozen organs, and each has interesting neoplastic and
non-neoplastic pathology. Nothing keeps you on your toes quite like
spending 5 seconds signing out a tubular adenoma, then counting mitotic
figures in a GIST resection, then wrestling with a complex medical liver biopsy for 30 minutes!
How does your typical day go?
get to work, I spend 30 to 60 minutes in the morning catching up on all
the emails that pour in at the start of the day. If I am on signout,
that will fill my next several hours, usually with a resident and/or
fellow (which allows me to teach as I go). Afternoon is when I can work
on whatever else tops my to-do list, whether that’s collecting research
data, writing or revising a manuscript, putting together a lecture,
photographing interesting cases, or tackling paperwork.
What is the most memorable experience you've had at work?
year, I posted a “Tweetorial” about gastrointestinal neuroendocrine
neoplasms on Twitter. It was about 50 short posts, with photographs,
discussing current understanding of the disease topic. I had aimed the
posts at pathologists, but in addition, I was contacted by several
patients who had follow-up questions and who expressed gratitude for the
information. I was even contacted by the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation.
It was wonderful to have this opportunity to interact with the people
truly impacted by our work.
What most surprised you about being a pathologist?
that before entering the field, I had braced myself to prepare for the
stereotypes I’d heard – that pathologists are just nerdy weirdos that
hide in their office and never talk to anyone. Fortunately, this has
absolutely not been my experience at all! Pathologists come in as many
varieties as any other group of people – you have athletes, musicians,
chefs, extroverts – anything and everything. Plus, I spend plenty of
time outside my office, interacting with other pathologists, support
staff, and physicians in other fields.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren't doing this?
some time as a section editor and copy editor for my college newspaper,
so that was on my mind for a while. Luckily, I still get to do editing
now and then, including through Pathology Outlines.
Could you say a few words about your association with PathologyOutlines?
I am the
gastrointestinal pathology editor for the website. My responsibilities
include editing any updated GI/liver/pancreas topic, seeking out skilled
authors to update important topics, and reviewing chapters to make sure
everything is organized properly. I also update topics myself when I
can find time. By working with Pathology Outlines, I can keep hundreds
(if not thousands) of pathologists up to date on the newest information
and diagnostic criteria. In that way, it's more efficient than
one-one-one teaching with a resident at the scope! I also relied heavily
on Pathology Outlines when I was a resident, so I enjoy being able to
give back to the website.