Pathologist's Assistant - How to Become a Pathologist's Assistant

Pathologist's Assistant


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Pathologist's Assistant Job Description

 

To work as a pathologists’ assistant (PA), you must complete an intensive training program to become one of these highly trained health professionals. You will work under the instructions and supervision of a licensed pathologist who is board-certified or board-eligible to provide anatomic pathology services.

As a pathologists’ assistant, you’ll not be allowed to make a final diagnosis in a case but you will be qualified to perform surgical procedures and autopsy functions that a pathologist performs.

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Responsibilities

 

The pathologists’ assistant may provide the following services under the supervision and direction of a pathologist:

  • Gross description, preparation and dissection of surgical specimens of human tissue

  • Preparations necessary for human post-mortem examinations

  • Instruction in anatomy and physiology

  • Education in gross pathology

  • Anatomical photography

  • Gross dissection skills of surgical specimens

  • Standard autopsy techniques

  • Clinical training of pathologists’ assistant students, residents and fellows in pathology and any other personnel who will be working in the pathology lab

  • Participate in ongoing research

  • Obtain samples used for bio-specimen banking

  • May be required to perform other assigned duties, including administrative, supervisory, budgetary and teaching duties

Because of the wide variety of tasks performed by pathologists’ assistants, these allied health professionals make a significant contribution to the effectiveness and cost efficiency of a pathology practice or a laboratory.

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Skills

 

Critical Thinking

Use logic and reasoning to determine the proper solutions to problems. Must think outside the box to come up with alternative approaches to difficult problems.

Active Listening

Be able to take instruction and listen to what others ask of you and ask questions when appropriate.

Equipment Maintenance

Maintain and care for equipment under your care and usage. Determine problems and troubleshoot solutions.

Communication

Effectively convey information to patients and co-workers. Must be able to work cohesively with your team.

Arm-Hand Steadiness

Must be able to keep your arm steady for a duration while helping your supervisor and doing certain tasks.

Near Vision

Must be able to see objects in a close proximity so you can perform your duties effectively.
Science Must know about natural processes and have an in-depth understanding of Biology and Anatomy.

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Working Conditions

 

A pathologists’ assistant is expected to perform a wide variety of clinical procedures. The majority of pathologists’ assistants work in academic settings, such as a medical school or university, or a community hospital. Others areas of potential employment include:

  • Private pathology laboratories

  • Morgues

  • Forensic pathology laboratories

  • Governmental health care system laboratories

  • Reference and research laboratories

  • Medical teaching facilities

  • Some pathologists’ assistants may work for themselves as self-employed business owners.

  • These PAs provide pathology services via short-term and long-term contractual agreements.

Job opportunities for pathologists’ assistants are available all over the United States, as well as in foreign markets such as Australia and Canada. Projected job availability puts pathologists’ assistants as one of the better job prospects for the foreseeable future.

 


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How to Become a Pathologist's Assistant:

 

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

 

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) has given its approval to 10 pathologists’ assistant programs. All of these programs, with the exception of one, requires a bachelor’s degree in a science field. Required undergraduate courses usually include:

  • Biological sciences, with human anatomy and physiology preferred
  • General chemistry
  • Organic or biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Mathematics, with statistics strongly recommended
  • English composition

It would be best to consider a premedical program at your University. A typical 4 year course load could 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

 

2. Complete a Pathologists' Assistant Program (2 Years)

 

A pathologists’ assistant program takes approximately two years to complete. This includes intensive training and culminates in a master’s degree. One of the accredited programs currently offers a bachelor’s degree as well. The first year of training consists of classroom and lecture settings. The second year requires clinical/clerkship rotations for hands-on experience in a hospital or laboratory. Typical program curriculum can look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses

First Year - Spring (16 hrs) 

 

  • Human Anatomy for Path. Asst. - 6 hours
  • Anatomical Pathology Techniques - 4 hours
  • Introduction to Disease Mechanisms - 4 hours
  • Histology - 3 hours
  • Educational Methodologies - 1 hour

First Year - Summer (10 hrs)

  • Mechanisms of Disease - 8 hours
  • Clinical Pathology Seminar - 2 hours

First Year - Fall (17 hrs)

  • Fundamentals of Physiology - 5 hours
  • Microbiology - 5 hours
  • Medical Laboratory Management - 2 hours
  • Advanced Microanatomy - 2 hours
  • Autopsy and Surgical Procedures - 3 hours

Second Year - Spring (11 hrs)

 

  • Path Assistant Practicum I  - 9 hours
  • Pathology Review I - 2 hours

Second Year - Summer (9 hrs)

  •  Path Assistance Practicum II - 9 hours

Second Year - Fall (9 hrs)

  • Path Assistant Practicum III - 7 hours
  • Pathology Review II - 2 hours

 --- 2 Year Total - 74 hours

 

3. Earn the Required Certification

 

National Certification for Pathologists’ Assistants was achieved in 2004 through the efforts of the American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). In order to earn a PA or ASCP designation, graduation from a pathologists’ assistant program that is accredited by the NAACLS is now required. The graduate must then successfully complete the examination for ASCP board certification.

 

4. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

 

As a certified pathologists’ assistant, you will be required to demonstrate sufficient continuing medical education to maintain your certification. You must complete continuing education and re-certify every 3 years. ASCP requires 45 Continuing Education credits for every three-year period of certification. Those must include at least one credit in safety and twenty credits in anatomic pathology. An ASCP renewal form must be sent to ASCP two months before the end of your 3 year period. 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
02.20.2018
Duties/Responsibilities The Pathologists' Assistant is specifically trained in the gross examination, dissection and submission of specimens for histologic evaluation for all commonly received specimens in the Histology Laboratory. Under the...
05.26.2019
Looking for your next opportunity? If so, choose Parkland and discover what a meaningful job feels like. Whether you work directly with patients or use your talent to support our care, youll be part of a team thats providing valuable health...
05.07.2019
Responsible for the 'Gross' examination of all routine tissues; processing frozen section specimens for the Pathologist; provides dissection assistance in the Frozen Section Laboratory after the case has initially been assessed by the...
06.17.2019
: Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton is seeking a Pathologists Assistant to provide appropriate, high quality, and comprehensive anatomic pathology services. The Pathologists Assistant is engaged in all phases of gross description and...
06.17.2019
Provides hearing screenings to newborns under the direction of the Audiologist. Provides office support to the audiologists and speech language pathologists as needed. Completes insurance verifications, authorizations and precertifications for...
06.17.2019
Under the direct or indirect supervision of a Pathologist, assists in the preparation, photography and performance of surgical specimen dissections, and human postmortem examinations as required by their facility. Will exhibit problem solving...
01.28.2019
One of the nations largest and most respected hospital companies, Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS)* has built an impressive record of achievement and performance. Steadily growing from a startup to an esteemed Fortune 500 corporation, UHS...
06.17.2019
Under the general supervision of the Senior Manager, and the Medical Director of Surgical Pathology, supervises the surgical pathology sample processing (grossing) room. The primary role of the incumbent is as a leader, practitioner, educator and...
06.17.2019
THIS IS A FULL-TIME POSITION WORKING MONDAY TO FRIDAY IN THE PATHOLOGY OFFICE LOCATED AT DUKE REGIONAL HOSPITAL. DUTIES ARE 50% PATHOLOGY TRANSCRIPTION AND 50% MODEERATELY COMPLEX TO ADVANCED OFFICE PROCEDURES. Scope: This following site...
06.17.2019
Under the general supervision of the Senior Manager, supervise the surgical pathology grossing roomThe primary role of the incumbent is as a leader, practitioner, educator and role model for residents and staff members. Prepares surgical and...
06.11.2019
Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares...
06.17.2019
Under general direction, perform various technical, clerical and patient care duties that support the function of the OU Medical Center Cytology laboratory Essential Responsibilities: Responsibilities listed in this section are core to the...
06.06.2019
ProHealth Care offers a system-wide laboratory operation with core hospital labs at Waukesha Memorial and Oconomowoc Memorial as well as two clinic-based laboratory sites in Waukesha County and performs over 8 million tests annually. Our Lab...
05.22.2019
Under the supervision of a physician, Practice Manager, Nurse and/or Director of Nursing, the Medical Assistant (MA) is responsible for assisting the healthcare team with the care and management of patients during their visit. The Medical...
06.17.2019
The Practice Assistant encompasses both adminstrative support and medical assistant support to the outpatient clinics. This position is responsible for delivering the highest quality service to patients while contributing to the smooth...
  1. Pathologists' Assistant Plymouth, MA Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital - Plymouth
    Duties/Responsibilities The Pathologists' Assistant is specifically trained in the gross examination, dissection and submission of specimens for histologic evaluation for all commonly received specimens in the Histology Laboratory. Under the...
  2. Certified Pathologists' Assistant Dallas, TX Parkland Heath and Hospital System
    Looking for your next opportunity? If so, choose Parkland and discover what a meaningful job feels like. Whether you work directly with patients or use your talent to support our care, youll be part of a team thats providing valuable health...
  3. Pathologists' Assistant Jacksonville, FL Mayo Clinic's Campus in Florida
    Responsible for the 'Gross' examination of all routine tissues; processing frozen section specimens for the Pathologist; provides dissection assistance in the Frozen Section Laboratory after the case has initially been assessed by the...
  4. Pathology Assistant Milton, MA Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital - Milton
    : Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton is seeking a Pathologists Assistant to provide appropriate, high quality, and comprehensive anatomic pathology services. The Pathologists Assistant is engaged in all phases of gross description and...
  5. Assistant Galion, OH Avita Health System
    Provides hearing screenings to newborns under the direction of the Audiologist. Provides office support to the audiologists and speech language pathologists as needed. Completes insurance verifications, authorizations and precertifications for...
  6. Pathology Assistant - Fargo, ND , MN Essentia Health
    Under the direct or indirect supervision of a Pathologist, assists in the preparation, photography and performance of surgical specimen dissections, and human postmortem examinations as required by their facility. Will exhibit problem solving...
  7. LAB ASSISTANT-PRN Weekend Shift 4:30p-1:00a Aiken, SC Aiken Regional Medical Centers
    One of the nations largest and most respected hospital companies, Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS)* has built an impressive record of achievement and performance. Steadily growing from a startup to an esteemed Fortune 500 corporation, UHS...
  8. Assistant Supervisor Pathology Assistant (40 Hrs -Days) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Under the general supervision of the Senior Manager, and the Medical Director of Surgical Pathology, supervises the surgical pathology sample processing (grossing) room. The primary role of the incumbent is as a leader, practitioner, educator and...
  9. ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTIONIST Durham, NC Duke Health
    THIS IS A FULL-TIME POSITION WORKING MONDAY TO FRIDAY IN THE PATHOLOGY OFFICE LOCATED AT DUKE REGIONAL HOSPITAL. DUTIES ARE 50% PATHOLOGY TRANSCRIPTION AND 50% MODEERATELY COMPLEX TO ADVANCED OFFICE PROCEDURES. Scope: This following site...
  10. Laboratory Operation Manager Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Under the general supervision of the Senior Manager, supervise the surgical pathology grossing roomThe primary role of the incumbent is as a leader, practitioner, educator and role model for residents and staff members. Prepares surgical and...
  11. Lab Technical Assistant Minneapolis, MN Allina Health
    Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares...
  12. Cytology Assistant Oklahoma City, OK OU Medicine
    Under general direction, perform various technical, clerical and patient care duties that support the function of the OU Medical Center Cytology laboratory Essential Responsibilities: Responsibilities listed in this section are core to the...
  13. Clinical Lab Assistant 1.0 FTE 2nd shift Waukesha, WI ProHealth Care
    ProHealth Care offers a system-wide laboratory operation with core hospital labs at Waukesha Memorial and Oconomowoc Memorial as well as two clinic-based laboratory sites in Waukesha County and performs over 8 million tests annually. Our Lab...
  14. Medical Assistant Brockton, MA Signature Healthcare
    Under the supervision of a physician, Practice Manager, Nurse and/or Director of Nursing, the Medical Assistant (MA) is responsible for assisting the healthcare team with the care and management of patients during their visit. The Medical...
  15. Medical Assistant-Practice Assistant Boston, MA Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
    The Practice Assistant encompasses both adminstrative support and medical assistant support to the outpatient clinics. This position is responsible for delivering the highest quality service to patients while contributing to the smooth...