Capture 2Alison Burkett, M.D., and Kesley Green, M.D. teaching high school students at BioBridgeWritten by Hannah Weems

Residents in the Department of Pathology are giving back to UAB by using their knowledge to teach medical, graduate, and high school students new disciplines.

Alison Burkett, M.D., PGY3, has been teaching second-year medical students since January 2020.

“Pathology is invited to participate in teaching the reproductive modules in the UAB School of Medicine curriculum,” Burkett says. In this module, she lectures alone or alongside other clinicians on topics ranging from pregnancy and infertility to pelvic masses and twinning. Dr. Burkett uses this course to teach other areas of pathology, such as blood banking, transfusion medicine, and surgical pathology.

Capture 3Oraine Snaith, M.D. teaching high school students at BioBridgeAll medical students take the reproductive module before exposure to clinical practice. The students have heard about these concepts, but never seen them in person. This is what makes teaching this module so exciting, says Burkett. Her passion for teaching began before joining UAB when she taught high school anatomy for three years. She graduated medical school from St. George’s University in Grenada and still continues to tutor medical students there.

In addition to the reproductive module, Dr. Burkett has been involved in teaching high school students through UAB’s Center for Community Outreach Development (CORD). CORD provides summer programs for K-12 students, as well as year-round academic enhancement activities for their teachers through the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), Alabama Hands-on Activity Science Program (ALAHASP), and Bioteach programs.

“Teaching is my favorite thing I do here at UAB,” says Burkett, and this fervor is evident in her medical student evaluations; reviews completed after each small group teaching. UAB medical student, Caitlin Horne, says, "I really enjoyed Dr. Burkett! She is by far the best small group leader I have had in medical school. [She is] very engaging and offered a lot of high yield information." 

Burkett is not the only pathology resident with a passion for teaching. Many others in the department have found purpose in training medical students, such as Oraine Snaith, M.D., PGY4, and Kesley Green, M.D., a PGY2 who began teaching in her first year of residency. 

Aside from teaching medical students, Drs. Burkett, Snaith, and Green have taught with UAB's BioBridge high school program, offered by CORD. The three residents teach the topic of pathology as a career, focusing on surgical pathology and the various malignancies diagnosed. This week-long course provides hands-on experiences covering the fundamentals of cellular and molecular biology and biotechnology using hands-on laboratory techniques. Students get a head start on 9th grade biology content in the context of cancer research.

"For me... teaching is not only to share the wealth of knowledge that I have gained," Snaith says, "but to inspire the next generation of great minds to pursue higher education. I would love for them to pursue the field of pathology and provide contributions to further expand and improve diagnostic medicine and health care as a whole. Moreover, it affords me the opportunity to inspire children of color to reach beyond the societal and social limitations cast upon them so that one day, they can give back to their communities."

He has instructed medical students in multiple disciplines, including autopsy, hematopathology, and GI pathology. UAB medical student Hannah Cutshall says, " [Dr. Snaith was] extremely helpful in guiding me through the rotation and he made sure I saw all subspecialties within surgical pathology as well as hemepath and autopsy. He took extra time to teach and preview slides with me so I was included in the diagnostic process and taught grossing techniques in great detail." 

Dr. Kesley Green, in her first year as a trainee, instructed multiple days of gross teaching with medical students. Her students describe her as an, "excellent communicator of the ins and outs of pathology," and someone who is, "...very enthusiastic about her work, which makes her enjoyment of autopsy pathology contagious." 

UAB Pathology residents Benjamin Daggett, M.D., PGY4 and Sarah DePew, D.O., PGY3, volunteer to teach with the Pathology Interest Group while they and many other residents also contribute their teaching talents to the Pathobiology of Cancer graduate course, teaching macro- and micro- rounds. Both residents and fellows have the opportunity to teach medical students voluntarily. It is evident from their passion that UAB Pathology trainees are moving medicine forward by training its next skilled practitioners.