| ||Learn more about Timothy C. Harkcom, DO, a Medical Member of the ASC and our Member Spotlight of the month. |
How did you first find out about cytology?
I knew very little about cytology until I started my pathology residency training. I was fortunate to have Dr. Barbara Crothers as a program director and mentor. I probably spent hours reviewing study slides one-on-one with her, and I can still remember how excited she seemed to be teaching, and how patient she was with a resident who didn’t really know what they were looking at.
What drew you to this profession?
I like to equate cytology to learning a new language. I’m looking at the same lesions, but just describing them with different words. I feel that being comfortable with both the cytomorphology and histopathology, makes me a better cytopathologist and a better surgical pathologist. I simply have more tools at my disposal.
Tell us about an interesting case or situation that you have encountered in your practice.
The most memorable case I’ve been involved with was a patient who was admitted with pneumonia and a pleural effusion. The effusion was drained, sent to the laboratory, and turned out to contain an unexpected adenocarcinoma. We were able to go from the procedure, to the diagnosis, speak to the ordering physician, and change the course of their treatment all in the same day. The speed at which cytology can move is remarkable.
What do you like best about being a cytopathologist?
I’m not actually a cytopathologist just yet. I’m currently working as a general pathologist with a lot of interest in cytopathology. I’ll be starting a cytopathology fellowship in 2022.
What is the most rewarding thing that has happened to you in cytology?
I find that the most rewarding times are when I’m engaged in explaining a case to fellow physicians or trainees. I like pointing out key features on the slide, explaining the diagnosis, and being able to show the utility of cytology, especially when I encounter the occasional cytology skeptic. It’s important for us all to be advocates for the field.
What do you value most about your membership in the ASC?
I like how the ASC isn’t physician centric. Everyone who is engaged in the field of cytology is welcomed and encouraged to participate. Cytology is a diverse profession, and I’ve learned great lessons and found role models and encouragement from people of all career paths and levels of training.
Do you have a memory from the ASC that you would like to share?
I haven’t been a member of ASC for too long, but I will say that it’s reassuring to know that we all share similar struggles, have similar challenges, and that ASC gives us all a forum to meet, learn, and grow as a community.