The Penn State College of Medicine Nittany Lion statue is seen surrounded by plants in the central courtyard of the College in June 2016.

3+ Pathology Accelerated MD Pathway

Building a Pathway to Pathology

The Penn State College of Medicine 3+ Pathology Accelerated Pathway (P-APPS) is a three-year accelerated MD specialty pathway leading to entry to Pathology residency. Students will complete the medical degree at the Penn State College of Medicine in three years, followed by residency training in Pathology at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The benefits of the P-APPS program include:

  • The ability to complete medical school in three years instead of four
  • The opportunity to save one year of tuition, housing and fees
  • Early clinical exposure
  • Individualized mentoring from faculty in the Department of Pathology leading to exceptional preparedness for residency
  • A continuum of undergraduate medical education and graduate medical education
  • Direct progression into the outstanding Pathology residency program at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
  • Earlier career entry

Students accepted into this pathway will receive mentoring and support throughout their medical education with the goal that graduates of the P-APPS program will be well prepared to assume the responsibilities of residency and a subsequent career in Pathology. Students are consistently evaluated throughout their medical education, and their acceptance into the residency can be rescinded should they fail to maintain acceptable performance levels.

Pathway Details

What is P-APPS exactly?

P-APPS is one of several accelerated curricula at Penn State College of Medicine that is designed to attract mature, dedicated learners who already have a strong personal commitment to pursue a career in a particular specialty. The P-APPS curriculum is focused to advance the student toward a Pathology residency at Penn State Health and subsequent career in Pathology.

The 3+ P-APPS pathway enables students to complete their medical degree in three years, followed by Pathology residency training at Penn State. The Penn State Pathology residency program is a 4 year combined Anatomic and Clinical Pathology residency program.

Because the 3+ P-APPS pathway is an immersive experience in students’ Pathology professional development, it will contribute to advancing students' career paths in Pathology. Since students will receive longitudinal mentoring and guidance in their identity formation by dedicated faculty in the Department of Pathology, it is anticipated that students will possess strong readiness to enter their Pathology residency program.

How many students do you accept each year?

We accept up to two students per year.

Will I need to enter the National Resident Matching Program?

Yes. The Penn State Health Pathology Residency can accept students through the match only. Therefore, you must enter the NRMP matching process.

Upon meeting the academic and professional standards for graduation from medical school, students are ranked to match into the Penn State Health Pathology Residency program through the National Resident Matching Program®. Should students choose to rank Penn State, they would match into a Pathology residency position at Penn State Health.

How can I finish medical school in only three years?

Students matriculate with the incoming medical school class in the summer. The 3+ course programming begins in the spring of the first year of medical school, with a career confirmation elective. Mentoring begins on selection into the program.

In order to complete the graduation requirements in a compressed time frame, students in the 3+ program do not get a full summer break after the first year. Students are enrolled in clinical electives for 6 weeks during this time, with 1 week vacation.

The curriculum utilizes several longitudinal experiences during which the student, once a week over several weeks, completes what traditionally would take place in a block clerkship experience, alongside concurrent Phase 1 coursework and traditional block clerkships.

In the 3+ tracks, career exploration electives in Phase II and certain electives are waived.

Students participate in commencement from medical school in May of their third year.

What deliverables are expected of the student?

Students in all 3+ tracks, including P-APPS, must meet the same educational objectives (the PSU COM Competencies and Sub-competencies) and graduation requirements as the four-year program. All students in 3+ tracks must complete a minimum of eight weeks of electives and a medical student research project (MSRP). The MSRP may, but does not have to be, with the Department of Pathology.

The methods of assessment in the P-APPS track will be identical to those of the main four-year program, including completion of a portfolio to provide documentation of meeting PSU COM Competencies and Sub-competencies.

When am I expected to take USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 exams?

You will be expected to take and pass USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 prior to graduation, which is a Penn State College of Medicine requirement. You will have preparation time during your third year to successfully complete these requirements.

Will my residency training be different?

Your three-year Pathology residency training at Penn State will not differ in curriculum from that of a non-P-APPS resident. However, you will have the benefit of relevant clinical experiences tailored for you by your mentoring team during medical school. You will have gotten to know faculty and staff in the Department of Pathology, easing your transition to residency.

What if I change my mind and no longer want to pursue Pathology, nor accelerate my training?

You would revert back to the traditional four-year program and enter the Match as usual. Any scholarship granted will convert to a loan. Credits for partial courses may not carry over to the four-year program. For this reason, it’s important that you are certain about pursuing a career in Pathology before you apply to the pathway. A career confirmation elective in the spring of your first year of medical school should help cement your career choice, or de-accelerate early if you decide this is not the path for you.

Application Process

Students may apply for entry into the P-APPS pathway at two time points – after acceptance into the MD Program at Penn State College of Medicine prior to matriculation, or in the fall of their first year of study.

After acceptance into the College of Medicine, eligible students must complete a secondary P-APPS application, which explores your familiarity with and commitment to the specialty of Pathology. The P-APPS committee, composed of faculty and residents who hold educational leadership roles in the Department of Pathology, will review applications, interview applicants and make the final selection for P-APPS.

The ideal candidate is a self-directed mature learner with a strong academic background who possesses good organizational and time-management skills, and who has demonstrated a strong commitment to Pathology as a career.

Students in the P-APPS track must maintain good academic standing. A student who fails to meet expectations in any courses or sub-competencies will re-enter the four-year program with earned course credits carried over to the four-year program.

If you are a prospective Penn State College of Medicine medical student with an interest in the Pathology accelerated pathway, email

Pathway Faculty

Program Co-Directors

Jordan Newell, MD
Associate Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics & Gynecology
Director, Gynecologic Pathology Unit
Director, Autopsy and Decedent Care Services
Department of Pathology, Penn State College of Medicine

Catherine S. Abendroth, MD (she/her/hers)
Chair, Curriculum Evaluation Subcommittee of CUMED
Professor of Pathology and Distinguished Educator, Penn State College of Medicine
Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Department of Pathology
Medical Director, Cytopathology Laboratory

Committee members

  • Keith C. Cheng, MD, PhD
  • Melissa R. George, DO
  • Bing Han, MD, PhD
  • Olajumoke Oladipo, MD, MSc, DABCC, FAACC
  • Evelyn M. Potochny, DO
  • Beth Smith, C-TAGME

Department Chair

  • Amyn M. Rojiani, MD, PhD, CPE
A portrait photograph of Dr. Jordan Newell in front of a professional photo background.
Jordan Newell, MD
A portrait photograph of Dr. Catherine S. Abendroth in front of a professional photo background.
Catherine S. Abendroth, MD

Contact Us

Additional questions and inquiries can be made to:

Catherine S. Abendroth, MD
Department of Pathology, Penn State College of Medicine
Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center
500 University Drive, MCO83
P.O. Box 850
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-1670


Jordan Newell, MD
Department of Pathology, Penn State College of Medicine
Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center
500 University Drive, MCO83
P.O. Box 850
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-1678


Raquel Clelan
P-APPS Program Coordinator

Phone: 717-531-8352


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