Pathologist - How to Become a Pathologist

Pathologist

Jump to:

Pathologist Job Description

 

A pathologist is a problem-solver who is typically fascinated by the disease process and is eager to unravel medical mysteries, such as cancer, diabetes and AIDS. A pathologist is a physician who is trained in examining tissues, checking the accuracy of laboratory tests and interpreting the results of lab tests in order to pinpoint a patient’s diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

.

Responsibilities

 

Pathologists use the sophisticated tools and methods used in modern laboratory science. The expertise of a Pathologist is needed to accurately interpret the thousands of blood and body fluid tests done in today’s rapidly advancing biomedical science labs.

The practice of medicine has been revolutionized by the rapid expansion of genomic research and testing. The pathologist provides an essential service in today’s evolving health care environment by guiding clinicians in the quest for an appropriate diagnostic test for patients. A pathologist will work closely with the other doctors in the patient’s health care team, and is a vital member of the patient’s primary health care team. Pathologists may work in a wide range of positions in a medical laboratory, including working as lab director.

Areas in which pathologists may specialize include:

Clinical pathology

  • This pathologist oversees lab testing conducted on body fluids. They will work together with clinical lab technologists to make certain that blood and blood products are safe for patient use. The pathologist may identify microorganisms that can cause infections, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. This allows the physician to select the most effective treatment available for a particular patient.

Anatomic pathology

  • This pathologist assists the surgeon during an operation by providing an immediate diagnosis based on biopsy samples. A biopsy is a specially treated tissue sample that is removed in surgery and rushed immediately to the lab.

Forensic pathology

  • This pathologist uses the principles of laboratory science to answer questions about evidence collected in criminal or civil legal cases.

Other pathologists may devote their careers to researching the field of pathology. These pathologists develop new testing and new instruments to increase the accuracy of diagnostic testing. A pathologist will often teach their specialty field to medical students and others preparing for various laboratory professions. These areas of practice may include clinical laboratory technology and cytotechnology, among others.

.

Skills

 

Science Must have a detailed knowledge of physiology, pathophysiology and all medical sciences. Understand natural processes and be able to use your knowledge to solve problems.
Pathology Must understand the nature, cause, development, and clinical management of diseases in people. Know how they respond in people and changes caused by diseases.

Attention to Detail

Must be thorough, accurate and pay close attention to your work and cause and effect relationships.

Communication

Must be able to effectively convey information and work with your peers to solve problems.

Enjoy Challenges

Must love to take on challenges since you will be tasked with solving some difficult medical mysteries and be on the cutting edge of curing and researching disease.

Critical Thinking

Need to think critically and in-depth with all situations. Must look past known solutions and into alternative areas. Possibly over-analyze, so you can develop new practices and see solutions others don't.

Autonomous and Comfortable Making Decisions

Must be able to make tough calls and have the confidence to stick by your decisions. Self-motivated and works well alone-- or on your own volition.

.

Working Conditions

 

The United States is home to more than 15,000 board-certified Pathologists. These pathologists may practice their chosen specialty in the following locales:

  • Hospitals, including community facilities, teaching universities and government hospitals

  • Independent laboratories

  • Private office practices

  • Clinics

  • Other health care facilities

 


.

How to Become a Pathologist:

 

Pathologists must first complete the required four years of medical school before beginning their training as residents. This residency period may last for an additional four to five years, after which they will be eligible to take examinations for board certifications. At this point, many Pathologists may also undertake additional training in a chosen subspecialty.

To become a pathologist, you first have to become a doctor which means, undergrad, medical school, residency, and fellowships where you specialize in Pathology.

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

Since you must get into medical school, it would be best to major in premed during your undergrad. You will need pre-requisites heavy in science and math, so your undergrad course load might look like the following:

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology 
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology 
  • Electives

 

Be sure to keep your grads high, as medical school admissions are very competitive. You need to start prepping for the MCAT as well, because you need to take it to advance.

 

2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills. 

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Section/Category  Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

 

You have two program choices in medical school to become a pathologist: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment, but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine. Whichever path you choose, you are facing 4-5 years in medical school.

Your first couple of years will focus on the following:

  • Basic pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Other life sciences

In the second half of the program, you will work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to advance your skills and go through clinical rotations where you will be exposed to different areas of medicine. Here, you can take a Pathology rotation as an elective and get acquainted to the line of work. You can also participate in research programs, if you get the invitation. 

 

4. Earn the Required License

 

After you complete medical school you have to apply for your medical license and board certification. 

If you graduate from a MD program, you can take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). If you graduate from a DO program, you can take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA)

 

5. Complete a Pathology Residency Program

 

After medical school, you have to complete your residency, which typically last 4 years. During this time, you will be supervised by other healthcare professionals and get hands on training to build upon your skills and confidence, to allow you independent practice. During your residency, you can expect to work from anywhere to three to eight years in a clinical or hospital setting. It's here you can really hone in on your skills and build upon your knowledge. 

A pathology residency program includes the following training:

  • Anatomic and/or Clinical Pathology
  • Instruction in autopsy
  • Image analysis
  • Cytogenetics
  • Molecular Diagnostics 
  • Protein Biochemistry

You can also participate in research during this time where you can be exposed to more of what you will do as a Pathologist. As you move through the program you will be given more freedom and allowed to make decisions and act more autonomously. You get a stipend during your residency that grows with each year in the program. You can find accredited residencies and fellowships through the American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

 

6. Complete a Fellowship Program (2 Years)

 

If you want to specialize in areas such as dermopathology, surgical pathology or pediatric pathology, you need to complete a fellowship. The programs usually last up to two years and provide in-depth, focused training in your chosen area. Here is where you can perform research specific to your field and interests and get involved in rotations that show you more specific areas related to your field. 

 

7. Earn the Required Certification

 

After you complete your training, you will need to become certified through the American Board of Pathology (ABP). You must first hold your medical degree, and have all your required specialty training hours completed. Then you must take either the Anatomic Pathology Examination or the Clinical Pathology Examination to receive your certification. 

 

8. Maintain Certification with Continuing Education

 

After all the school, training, tests, and time, you have to earn continuing education credits and maintain your certification as a Pathologist. You have to complete a Maintenance of Certification Program (MOC) in a 10 year cycle. The program includes the following:

Part I – Professionalism and Professional Standing

  • Must hold a valid, unrestricted medical license and meet the ABP’s professionalism expectations.

Part II – Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment

  • Must meet the ABP’s learning and self-assessment requirements.

Part III – Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills

  • Must assess their pathology specific knowledge, judgment, and skills by passing a secure examination during every 10-year MOC cycle.

Part IV – Improvement in Medical Practice

  •  Must engage in specialty relevant performance-in-practice assessment and improvement activities.

.

Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
11.28.2016
- Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required - Certification required per job description - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required -...
11.28.2016
- Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required VCU Health System's Speech Therapy is seeking an hourly (PRN) Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist is an experienced therapist who is able to independently adapt...
11.30.2016
- Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required - Certification required per job description - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required -...
11.28.2016
SPEECH THERAPY FULL TIME/DAYS/80 HOURS PER PAY The Speech Pathologist assumes a leadership role on the patient care team. This individual will identify patient care needs, design and monitor the patients progress, and provide direct patient...
11.28.2016
- Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required VCU Health System is recruiting for Speech Pathologist PRN Petersburg Therapy Center Children's Hospital of...
12.03.2016
DescriptionThe Speech Therapist delivers quality therapy services upon physician referral by performing evaluations and developing individual treatment plans and goals to maximize functional outcomes. Implements the treatment program and...
10.04.2016
Masters Degree Must have a Master's degree in Speech Pathology. Must be a licensed Speech Pathologist in the State of Indiana, with ASHA certification preferred; or be licensed as a Clinical Fellow in his/her Clinical Fellowship year by the...
11.28.2016
- Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required - Certification required per job description - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required -...
11.28.2016
The Speech Language Pathologist performs initial evaluation, establishes goals, and develops plan of care for all new patients referred for treatment. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient contact...
11.28.2016
Responsible for carrying out technical and functional activities in Anatomic Pathology. This position reports to the Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and the Sr. Director of Clinical Support Services. II. PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND...
11.28.2016
Cape Cod Healthcare is the leading provider of healthcare services for residents and visitors of Cape Cod. With more than 450 physicians, 4,700 employees, and 1,100 volunteers, Cape Cod Healthcare operates two-acute care hospitals, the Cape's...
11.28.2016
The Speech Pathologist evaluates and treats inpatient and out patient clients performing screenings, evaluations and modified barium swallows. The speech pathologist is responsible for documenting all age appropriate patient care approximately in...
11.28.2016
Must possess a Masters Degree in Communication Disorders or related field, a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), and licensed by the Board of Allied Health Professionals in...
11.28.2016
The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
11.28.2016
The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
  1. Speech Pathologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required - Certification required per job description - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required -...
  2. Speech Pathologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required VCU Health System's Speech Therapy is seeking an hourly (PRN) Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist is an experienced therapist who is able to independently adapt...
  3. Speech Pathologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required - Certification required per job description - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required -...
  4. SPEECH PATHOLOGIST Dayton, OH Premier Health - Good Samaritan Hospital
    SPEECH THERAPY FULL TIME/DAYS/80 HOURS PER PAY The Speech Pathologist assumes a leadership role on the patient care team. This individual will identify patient care needs, design and monitor the patients progress, and provide direct patient...
  5. Speech Pathologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required VCU Health System is recruiting for Speech Pathologist PRN Petersburg Therapy Center Children's Hospital of...
  6. Speech Pathologist Oklahoma City, OK St. Anthony Hospital
    DescriptionThe Speech Therapist delivers quality therapy services upon physician referral by performing evaluations and developing individual treatment plans and goals to maximize functional outcomes. Implements the treatment program and...
  7. Speech Pathologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Masters Degree Must have a Master's degree in Speech Pathology. Must be a licensed Speech Pathologist in the State of Indiana, with ASHA certification preferred; or be licensed as a Clinical Fellow in his/her Clinical Fellowship year by the...
  8. Speech Pathologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Masters degree is required - Appropriate licensure is required - Certification required per job description - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required -...
  9. Speech Pathologist Oklahoma City, OK INTEGRIS Health
    The Speech Language Pathologist performs initial evaluation, establishes goals, and develops plan of care for all new patients referred for treatment. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient contact...
  10. PATHOLOGIST ASSISTANT Worcester, MA UMass Memorial Medical Center
    Responsible for carrying out technical and functional activities in Anatomic Pathology. This position reports to the Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and the Sr. Director of Clinical Support Services. II. PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND...
  11. Speech Pathologist Hyannis, MA Cape Cod Healthcare
    Cape Cod Healthcare is the leading provider of healthcare services for residents and visitors of Cape Cod. With more than 450 physicians, 4,700 employees, and 1,100 volunteers, Cape Cod Healthcare operates two-acute care hospitals, the Cape's...
  12. Speech Language Pathologist Melrose, MA Hallmark Health System
    The Speech Pathologist evaluates and treats inpatient and out patient clients performing screenings, evaluations and modified barium swallows. The speech pathologist is responsible for documenting all age appropriate patient care approximately in...
  13. JML - Speech Language Pathologist Hyannis, MA Cape Cod Healthcare
    Must possess a Masters Degree in Communication Disorders or related field, a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), and licensed by the Board of Allied Health Professionals in...
  14. Speech Language Pathologist Hendersonville, NC Pardee Hospital
    The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
  15. Speech Language Pathologist Hendersonville, NC Pardee Hospital
    The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...