Welcome to this edition of the FSP member spotlight. This month we are delighted to feature Donald Karcher, MD. Dr. Karcher currently is in his 5th year as a CAP Governor and serves as a member of the CAP Executive Committee, Chair of the CAP Council on Education, and chair or member of multiple other CAP groups. He is also a Professor and Immediate Past Chair of Pathology at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Donald Karcher, MD
Professor & Immediate Past Chair of Pathology at George Washington University Medical Center; CAP Governor
What is your current role?
I'm Professor and Immediate Past Chair of Pathology at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC. After 20 years as Chair, I stepped down as Chair 18 months ago to have more time to devote to other interests in pathology, particularly to my work in the CAP. I'm still a full-time faculty member at GWU and actively practice hematopathology and flow cytometry, teach residents and fellows, and publish papers, book chapters and books. I'm currently in my 5th year as a CAP Governor and serve as a member of the CAP Executive Committee, Chair of the CAP Council on Education, and chair or member of multiple other CAP groups.
What is the best part of your occupation?
Providing great pathology services and preparing the next generation of pathologists are the best parts for me. Pathology and laboratory medicine are key to all of medicine, as the source of essential diagnoses and most actionable data used in patient care. Actively practicing and preparing young pathologists for practice give me great satisfaction.
How did you become interested in pathology?
I went to medical school to become an internist, but quickly discovered the wonders of pathology. I had a great mentor in my second year pathology course and did a summer pathology externship during medical school. I was hooked. I love the diagnostic challenge and the ability to use basic science knowledge and cutting-edge technology to provide the most accurate and complete diagnoses possible and essential laboratory data to serve our patients.
How did you become involved with the FSP?
I have many colleagues and close friends who are FSP members and was encouraged by many of them to become a member. I practice in the District of Columbia where we have no "state" pathology society, so I consider the FSP my adopted state society.
Explain how you benefit from being a member of FSP?
Being an FSP member allows me to network with other FSP members and learn first-hand about issues affecting Florida pathologists, many of which affect pathologists in other states. I've been very involved in the CAP state pathology society initiative and I've come to view FSP as one of the truly model societies in the country. I've also really enjoyed participating in FSP educational activities.
What would you like to see occur in the field of pathology (i.e., scientific advances, greater awareness of the field, etc.) during your career?
Much of my work in pathology organizations, as a past President of the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC) and a long-time leader in the CAP, has been focused on making pathology more visible and properly valued in the healthcare system and in society at-large, so this continues to be one of my greatest desires. I also want to see more medical students and graduates, both in the US and internationally, choose to become pathologists. Finally, artificial intelligence/machine learning tools are coming to pathology practice and I want to make sure pathologists are prepared to use these tools to make richer, more detailed diagnoses and become better pathologists in the process.
What are your hobbies outside of the office?
I play tennis with family members (my wife Lois and our kids and grandkids) and love taking long walks on the beach in Florida and North Carolina. I also love reading, writing fiction (and a little poetry), and watching great movies on TV.
What is something surprising that most people do not know about you?
I'm originally from New Orleans, but I've lived away from there so long that I've lost my New Orleans accent (a combination of French and "Southern"). People are usually surprised when I tell them.
Is there anything I did not ask you that you would like to mention in this article?
I look forward to continuing to connect with FSP members, learn more about Florida issues, and work with FSP as part of my leadership activities in the CAP.
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