Pathologist Josenia Tan, MD, is Chair and Medical Director of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Saratoga Hospital. She oversees the hospital’s highly accredited Laboratory Service Centers and expert team of pathologists, scientists and phlebotomists. Dr. Tan is board-certified in Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology, as well as Cytopathology, in which she is also fellowship-trained. Dr. Tan is one of the scientists who researched and implemented innovative ways to provide COVID-19 testing while conserving testing supplies and protective gear for frontline personnel.
A native of the Philippines, Dr. Tan graduated from Far Eastern University - Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation. Her residency and fellowship both took place at Boston University Medical Center, where she later held positions as an assistant professor and associate chief of laboratory medicine. Dr. Tan and her husband live locally with their Havanese dog, Zorro.
Q. Why did you choose a career in pathology?
A. I first came to this country in 1991 as a certified medical technologist. I always wanted to be a physician so I worked hard and saved money for my dream. While I was employed at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, one of the pathologists there approached me to ask about my career plans. Unbeknownst to him what my plans were, he suggested that I should become a physician. I’ll never forget his encouragement. He said I had a great career in front of me.
During my fellowship at Boston Medical Center, the surgical chief mentioned they had a recruitment letter from Saratoga Hospital and recommended I check it out. I came for a visit, looked at the town, and knew I could be happy here. There’s something about Saratoga Springs that just makes you feel good. And the hospital is a special place. The people here are very dedicated and really care about their patients. I found my home. I am one of those lucky people who are living their dream.
Q. What is the biggest change you have seen over the years in your specialty?
A. The advances in equipment and technology are driving an innovative future for pathology. Digital pathology is the next level of slide viewing in pathology. The microscope is starting to be replaced by screens, like you would see a radiologist use. Biological samples are still placed on slides, but they are scanned so you can see them up on a screen. We can even share these virtual slides with a specialist in real time. Molecular pathology is the other big thing in this field. There are now molecular panels for testing of cancers, for diagnosis and prognosis, and therapy. All of these changes are very exciting!
Q. What quality or area of expertise most sets you apart in your work?
A. My background in laboratory medicine as a medical technologist has augmented my understanding of this work in a way that is not typical for a pathologist. I know laboratory services inside and out. I understand the challenges my technologists face, having been there myself, and can be of better help as a colleague and a leader.
It helps that I love being a pathologist, figuring out diagnoses for patients and solving puzzles to help the pathology field as a whole. The job requires meticulous attention to detail, making sure that regulations are met, quality is maintained, and all results coming out of the lab are reliable and accurate. It is very satisfying and rewarding to put together these complex puzzles that give specialists and patients a better look at the whole picture.
Q. What is the personal or professional philosophy that most guides your work?
A. I do my best to lead by example and inspire my team, but the truth is, it is the people you work with that makes things happen. These are highly skilled, talented people. We all feel it is a joy to work with each other every day. We work hard, never give up, share a little humor, and take time to show how much we value each other. I treasure the simple gestures of appreciation that my team has shown me, such as the little notes they gave me.
Q. What might patients be surprised to learn about you?
A. Well, this won’t surprise my team, but I really love shoes. There is nothing that a great pair of boots can’t cure. I also like singing karaoke. A favorite is Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” I have a list of diva songs, too, including Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion, but, trust me, I have to be by myself when I sing them.
One time, when I was still in training, the program director asked me what career path would I choose if I didn’t become a physician. I told him I’d want to be a singer, but since that wouldn’t work, I decided to become a physician. He nearly fell out of his chair, laughing.
Saratoga Hospital’s highly accredited laboratory service centers offer the full spectrum of quality, routine bloodwork, and other laboratory diagnostics. Specimen collection and drop-off services are conveniently located in medical practices around the region. You do not need to be a member of the practice to utilize a collection and drop-off location. Walk-ins are welcome. Appointments are not necessary. Please refer to the locations on this page to view lab hours and services offered. Learn more at SaratogaHospital.org.