Author : Dr Geetpriya Kaur ( MDS)
Assistant Editor, Genomeden
“When job scarcity occurs, there is always a time to create and market new work opportunities”
Oral Pathology is a non-clinical branch of dentistry. It is a unique branch of dentistry where research in combination with clinical practice, academics, histopathology, cytopathology, molecular science, microbiology, and forensic odontology paves the way for developing novel diagnostic approaches. The main duty of an oral pathologist is to give a final diagnosis of an oral lesion by evaluation of a histopathology slide. The scope of Oral Pathology can be broadened by exploring various possible opportunities. Following are the several career opportunities after the Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) course in Oral Pathology:
It is a conventional career path. An Oral Pathologist can join a government or private dental college to teach dental anatomy, histology, and Oral Pathology. They teach undergraduates as well as postgraduates. Teaching undergraduates is more of a theoretical experience that involves training in all dental subjects. However, teaching postgraduates involves conducting seminars, journal clubs, case discussions, reporting histology and histopathological slides, as well as being a prime part of their theses and research projects. The teachers have to brainstorm novel thesis and research topics. Moreover, other duties are reporting their department cases and communicating as well as collaborating with other departments. According to me, an Oral Pathologist in an academic career can be called a ‘Researchamician’ as they perform the duties of researcher and academician.
- Oral Pathology Consultant
The Oral Pathologist can work as a consultant for dental clinics. They can examine patients clinically, carry out incisional as well as punch biopsies, and provide histopathology reports.
- Consultant at General Pathology and Radiology Diagnostic Centres
“If you believe you deserve it, you are halfway there”.
This career path is unconventional. Few Oral Pathologists explore this area. The established general diagnostic centres with integrated radiology and pathology facilities rarely provide jobs for Oral Pathologists. If an Oral Pathologist is passionate about the subject and intends to work with a general pathologist to learn haematology, biochemistry as well as microbiology, and take part in Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) procedures, they can be selected for these positions. The learning part and challenges will be part of this process. But with experience, an Oral Pathologist can be given an opportunity to become authorised signatory of haematology reports.
- Starting Oral Pathology Diagnostic Centre
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Nowadays, many Oral Pathologists are opting to start their own specialised Oral Pathology diagnostic centres. The Oral Pathology entrepreneurs can be referred to as Opathpreneurs. This approach can be challenging in the beginning. The Oral Pathologist should collaborate with dental clinics as well as dental departments of government and private hospitals. The services of the diagnostic centres should include clinical examination of oral lesions, biopsy procedures, and histopathology reporting of oral lesions. Additionally, tobacco cessation counselling can be provided to patients addicted to smoking and smokeless tobacco.
- Fellowship in Cancer Hospitals
Some private and government cancer hospitals offer research fellowship programs in head and neck surgical Onco-Pathology programs. There are high chances of getting a permanent job in cancer hospitals after the fellowship programs.
Oral Pathology is a research-based dental speciality. Many Oral Pathologists can also apply for research-based funded projects and even pursue Ph.D. curricula according to their broader areas of interest. The Oral Pathologist can also collaborate with different research institutions to prepare research proposals and pursue funded research projects. The details of funded projects can be found on online portals of databases as well as government and private funding agencies.
- Fellowship in Forensic Odontology
Forensic odontology is an upcoming branch of Dental Pathology and Medicine. Many government and private dental institutions provide fellowships in forensic odontology. After pursuing a fellowship, Oral Pathologists can associate with different legal bodies of the country to be part of the forensic team. Many legal cases have been sorted based on patients’ dental histories as well as various studies on bitemarks. Recent studies of forensic odontology are based on the latest technologies and different interventions such as artificial intelligence, microfluidic technology, lab-on-chip, saliva, rugoscopy, tooth prints, photographic studies, cheiloscopy, dental casts, radiographs, and molecular studies.
- Medical Content Writing Industry
Another alternative career option is entering in medical content writing and editing industry. Examples of various kinds of medical writing are medical journalism, medical education, marketing of healthcare products, research publications, and regulatory as well as research-based documents. The different types of scientific documents include regulatory and research-based documentation. The regulatory documents include clinical study reports, safety and efficacy of drug summary reports, nonclinical overviews, and package inserts mainly patient information leaflets. The several types of research documentation are clinical trial protocols, study reports, investigator’s brochures, and research proposals. Many corporate companies have vacancies for medical editors. This industry is vast with many opportunities.
- Editor in Medical Academic Publishing Industry
The arena of the medical publishing industry is another less explored option after postgraduation in Oral Pathology. The qualified Oral Pathologist is skilled in literature research and can evaluate research-related information. An Oral Pathologist has in-depth knowledge of normal and pathological mechanisms of the human body and is updated with innovative and advanced technologies in the domain of genetics, epigenetics, microbiology, and molecular techniques. The Oral Pathologist can apply for editor positions in book publishing and medical magazines.
- Editor in Medical Journals Publishing Industry
The Oral Pathologists are trained for research projects during postgraduation. They have an extensive understanding of disease pathogenesis, clinical history, and various diagnostic investigations. This knowledge can be helpful in the journal publication industry. They are also aware of different types of manuscript publications such as original research, case reports, case series, literature reviews, and systematic reviews. An Oral Pathologist applying for a job in medical journals should have an interest in reading the author’s hard work with patience and sit for long hours at their desk. The editor should give concise and clear feedback to the authors, thus excellent writing and communication skills will also be a helpful tool to interact with national and international authors.
“The way you see the world is the way the world sees you”
There are many different job opportunities for an Oral Pathologist. The main obstacles in traditional work choices are job scarcity and financial insecurity. In recent years, alternative career opportunities have increased with different work models. Even though, some work areas can have their challenges and benefits too. The work mindset, not giving up, setting a salary benchmark, and exploring different career options can help Oral Pathologists find their calling.
- Kardam P, Jain K, Mehendiratta M, Sant VK. An unconventional career path for an oral Pathologist: Sharing personal insights from experience as a part of medical publishing industry. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol 2021; 25:215-8.
- Chatterjee K. Private practice of oral and maxillofacial pathology: A career option. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol 2018; 22:290-1.