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Reade Quinton, M.D.: Transplant from the South inspires budding pathologists

Reade Quinton, M.D. (LABM & PATH ’19), Division of Anatomic Pathology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, says he was stunned to receive a Teacher of the Year award from the Mayo Fellows’ Association. “I wouldn’t have even considered that I’d be in the running. Words can’t express how humbling this is. I hope I can continue to perform at a level that meets trainees’ expectations.”

“Words can’t express how humbling this is.”

Dr. Quinton was stunned, in part, because he’s only been at Mayo Clinic for two years. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he completed his residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He also completed a fellowship in forensic pathology at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

He spent almost 15 years at UT Southwestern and was program director for the forensic pathology fellowship. “When you’re a program director, everyone calls you to scout for good trainees to hire,” says Dr. Quinton. “One of my co-residents, Ross Reichard, M.D. (APATH ’11), is a forensic pathologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and we’ve kept in touch over the years through activities and committees. When Mayo Clinic had an opportunity available, Dr. Reichard called to see if we had anyone in training who would be interested in the position. I don’t think either one of us expected that the conversation would lead to hiring me.”

Dr. Quinton and his family moved to Rochester in December 2019 — the memorable polar vortex winter. “The weather was quite a shock,” he says. “I didn’t own a real jacket, snow tires or a snow blower. However, we love it. It’s completely different from anything we’ve ever experienced.”

Dr. Quinton’s practice focuses on hospital autopsy and forensic autopsy. While hospital autopsy rates across the country are on the decline, Dr. Quinton says Mayo Clinic sees the value in autopsy and actively promotes the opportunity to the families of patients who die in the hospital to help provide nuanced information about cause of death. As a result, Mayo Clinic in Rochester has one of the busiest hospital autopsy services in the U.S.

Different from hospital autopsies, forensic (or medicolegal) autopsies are performed for legal or medical reasons to determine a cause of death. Forensic pathology bridges medicine, public health and law enforcement. Every case has the potential to be scrutinized at a high level. During his forensic pathology fellowship, Dr. Quinton trained in several areas outside of pathology, including medicolegal death investigation, courtroom testimony and toxicology. Among his duties at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Quinton serves as one of three medical examiners for the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s office.

During the pandemic, he has performed autopsies on COVID-19 patients to help inform the practice and health departments.

“I love inspiring Mayo Clinic residents to care about autopsy and forensic pathology,” he says. “It’s usually eye-opening and debunks any preconceived notions from TV shows. Autopsy is a foreign technique for most of them — putting together a patient’s clinical history, determining a cause of death. It can be overwhelming. I urge them to take a deep breath, move at their own pace and learn over time.

“It’s rewarding when a trainee arrives at a differential diagnosis for a case that’s similar or better than what I’d have done. I marvel at their progress from the first week to the last week of the rotation and the maturation of their autopsy techniques, gross and microscopic assessments, and presentation skills of a case.”

“I love inspiring Mayo Clinic residents to care about autopsy and forensic pathology.”

Dr. Quinton says he learns a great deal from residents. “They ask fantastic questions to which I sometimes reply, ‘Let’s look that up together,’ because I don’t know the answer. Working with trainees keeps me on my toes.”

A skill he says residents may not realize is necessary for pathologists is an excellent bedside manner. “Although our patients are deceased, we do call next of kin with autopsy findings within 24 hours of the patient’s death. In every one of these calls, we are dealing with people at a very vulnerable moment. I advise trainees to start by asking the family member what they’re concerned about and letting them talk. That allows you to learn what they want to know, which is preferable to overwhelming them with data.

“Residents quickly see the entire scope of autopsy as the practice of medicine even though patients are no longer alive. It’s a privilege to be part of their initial exposure to this subspecialty. Former trainees often contact me to thank me for their autopsy experience. Talk about rewarding!”


Comments from trainees

  • “Dr. Quinton is a fantastic, caring, natural teacher in and outside of the autopsy room. Why? Quite simply because he likes it. He is one of those people who gets excited when sharing his expertise with others. I find that to be an invaluable quality of his and feel very grateful for having the opportunity to learn from him.”
  • “Dr. Quinton is incredibly approachable, flexible with his time, and always makes time in his schedule to sit with residents and review cases or discuss other topics. He has as much respect for you as he would for another consultant.”
  • “His enthusiasm and passion for teaching are obvious and make a busy rotation like autopsy 100 times more valuable.”
  • “Mayo would be a better place with more people like Dr. Quinton as faculty.”

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