28 September 2021: Meet the Editor – Catherine Hagen, M.D.

Please introduce yourself.

I am a gastrointestinal pathologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I grew up in Rochester but moved away for medical school and training. I completed my AP/CP residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, followed by a gastrointestinal pathology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. Following training, I practiced at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI, for 5 years before making my way back to Rochester about a year and a half ago.

Why did you become a pathologist?

I always enjoyed our pathology lectures during the first 2 years of medical school but kept my mind open to various specialties. When I did my pathology rotation in my 4th year of medical school, that sealed the deal for me. The pathologists were a welcoming bunch and I enjoyed the diagnostic challenge of the field.

What do you like most about being a pathologist?

As a pathologist, I get to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to provide a correct diagnosis for a patient. Knowing that my diagnosis helps the patient receive appropriate treatment and follow up is very rewarding.

What is special about your subspecialty?

GI pathology has a nice mix of both neoplastic and non-neoplastic entities and covers several different organs, including the tubal gut, liver, and pancreas. Typically, it is a high-volume service so there is always variety to keep things interesting.

How does your typical day go?

When I am on the GI service, usually the morning is spent signing out biopsy cases. If a resident/fellow is on service with me, I will arrange a time to review the cases with them after their preview. My afternoon is usually spent reviewing consult cases and any follow-up cases from the previous day. If there is any extra time, I usually try to squeeze in some research or other academic activities (lecture preparation, editorial reviews, etc.).

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had at work?

I had the opportunity to describe a new entity. About 2 years ago I had a papillary cystic lesion of the pancreas with squamous differentiation. I had never seen anything like it before and sent it to some other experts in the field. They also had never seen anything like it. We published the case and called it “Intraductal papillary squamous neoplasm of the pancreas.” It is rare to find something that has never been described in pathology before.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t doing this?

Playing beach volleyball.

Could you say a few words about your association with PathologyOutlines?

I started using PathologyOutlines.com in residency and found it to be a valuable resource for looking up high yield facts about a given entity. A couple of years ago I started writing for PathologyOutlines and then soon after joined the editorial board. Just recently I was appointed deputy editor-in-chief for GI pathology. The authors and staff have really done an excellent job keeping the site up to date and I have enjoyed being a part of this outstanding team. Providing free, easy access, and relevant information on virtually every pathology topic is amazing! This is truly a priceless resource that almost every pathologist utilizes at some point in their career.

You can follow Dr. Hagen on Twitter @pathologistkt.

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