Inspired by the wonderful teachers I had along the way, I have carried my approach of seeing patterns, identifying the similarities (and not just the differences), comparing, and contrasting into my teaching. Inspired by my students and more importantly, their doubts, and my earnest wish as a teacher for them to see what and how I could see and understand in Pathology, I started doodling. Simple, not very artistic, more schematic than representative but still legible enough to convey the shape of an epithelioid cell, the color of an oncocyte and the size of a diffuse large B cell lymphoma cell.
Our students just like us in the beginning of our respective journeys in this field, get lost in the pink, blue and purple hues of histopathology with the most common lament being, “Everything looks the same!”. In addition to the application, morphological understanding and its reasoning can help make students appreciate and identify the histopathological findings, perhaps even generate enough interest in the field to create more Pathologists! What makes the cells and tissues appear the way they do will even serve the larger purpose of helping them learn to question “why” and “how” – which are essential tools in Pathology and then clinical sciences, ultimately producing astute physicians.
Telling our students about the exquisite morphology of plasma cell, linitis plastica and renal cell carcinoma is essential. However, with the help of doodles, we can help them appreciate and therefore, remember so much more- in a way that will not be factual but sequential, which can be derived and recalled, and can be applied to other areas as well. Imagine if they could understand why the plasma cell has a basophilic cytoplasm and an eccentric nucleus, or how a mutation in CDH1 at a molecular level can lead to a diffuse leather bottle appearance of stomach at a gross level, or just why clear cell renal cell carcinoma is called so, and how that leads to its characteristic yellow color on gross. The potential for concept building in this manner is limitless! (Image 1)