Life as a Pediatric Pathology Fellow

Interview of Pediatric Fellow Nathan Shaller, MD by Elizabeth Walker | 8 August

The pediatric pathology fellowship at Michigan Medicine allows trainees a comprehensive educational experience. Based in C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospitals, fellows have access to over 5,000 pediatric surgical pathology specimens over the course of their year-long program. Additionally, the 212 perinatal and pediatric autopsies and fetal examinations performed yearly prepare trainees to practice general pediatric pathology in an academic or community setting.

Nathan Shaller, our 2016 – 2017 pediatric pathology fellow, graduated with high honors from Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica, in 2012. After graduating, he performed drug-abuse research at Harvard before beginning his residency in pathology at Michigan Medical School.


Q: Why did you choose a career in pediatric pathology?

A: I never wanted to specialize to begin with! I pursued a career in pathology because it casts the widest possible net of patients and disease.  Pediatric pathology appealed to me because it’s the logical continuation of that philosophy.  I could do an autopsy in the morning, and in the afternoon get a stack of surgical cases with skin, liver, bone, head and neck, with maybe a bone marrow thrown in. 

This is a marvelously complex field that can also be very emotionally uplifting, as every day I work as part of a team of absolute warriors who fight tooth-nail against any process that dares harm a child.


Q: What are the key challenges of a career in pediatric pathology?

A: Pediatric pathology requires dedication to life-long learning.  This field is extremely challenging due to its exhaustive breadth of developmental, neoplastic, infectious, and genetic illnesses.  It is ludicrous to expect total competency after one year of pediatric pathology subspecialty training.  For myself, the biggest challenge has been to keep faith that I eventually will get to a point where I can be persistently confident in my abilities and trust myself.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the work you do?

A: I love the wide variety of interdepartmental educational and clinical conferences.  Our clinical colleagues in pediatric cardiology, surgery, radiology, oncology, and neonatology are passionate educators and it’s a pleasure to be a part of the Mott team.


Q: What are your passions outside of work?

A: I live at home with my mini-pig, Kilo.  He’s my best friend, and we share the same passions:  Sleep, bananas, and belly-rubs. 


Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I would like to pursue a career in medical education in addition to pediatric and perinatal pathology, start a family, and raise a whole hockey team.