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
07.15.2019
The Pathologists Assistant, assists in the preparation, gross description, examination and dissection of various surgical specimens from the simple to the highly complex, including submission of tissue for histological analysis. The Pathologists...
06.26.2019
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...
08.19.2019
The Pathologist Assistant reports directly to the Pathologist and works indirectly under the Laboratory Director. The Pathologist Assistant will perform duties in the pathology lab related to grossing specimens following laboratory and pathology...
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...
08.19.2019
Experiences Pathologist Assistant with knowledge of grossing, small biopsies and large resection specimens.Under the direction of the staff pathologist and the laboratory supervisor. Assists in the preparation and performance of human surgical...
08.19.2019
: 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...
08.19.2019
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...
06.27.2019
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...
08.19.2019
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...
08.19.2019
The Support Assistant / Patient Care Assistant is responsible to the Department Director, Lake Health, and its clients for providing intermediate clerical, scheduling, cashiering and certification activities for clients. Along with for providing...
08.19.2019
High school graduate or GED equivalent with average reading, writing and oral communications skills Working knowledge of direct patient care Proof of: Successful completion of Nursing Assistant Program or Medical Assistant Program OR...
08.19.2019
High school graduate or GED equivalent with average reading, writing and oral communications skills Working knowledge of direct patient care Proof of: Successful completion of Nursing Assistant Program or Medical Assistant Program OR...
08.19.2019
High school graduate or GED equivalent with average reading, writing and oral communications skills Working knowledge of direct patient care Proof of: Successful completion of Nursing Assistant Program or Medical Assistant Program OR...
07.12.2019
The medical assistant performs assigned tasks of direct and indirect care in the ambulatory setting to meet the care needs of patients under the direct supervision of a physician (medical acts) or assigned supervisor. The medical assistant...
07.17.2019
Sign On Bonus $500.00 Department/Location: Orthopaedic Surgery Scheduler- Certified MA Performs medical assistant functions, facilitates communications and assists with patient care from infancy to geriatrics in the outpatient setting....
  1. Pathologists Assistant Charleston, SC Medical University of South Carolina
    The Pathologists Assistant, assists in the preparation, gross description, examination and dissection of various surgical specimens from the simple to the highly complex, including submission of tissue for histological analysis. The Pathologists...
  2. 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...
  3. Pathologists' Assistant Boston, MA Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
    The Pathologist Assistant reports directly to the Pathologist and works indirectly under the Laboratory Director. The Pathologist Assistant will perform duties in the pathology lab related to grossing specimens following laboratory and pathology...
  4. 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...
  5. Pathologists' Assistant (FT, 40 Hours, Days) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Experiences Pathologist Assistant with knowledge of grossing, small biopsies and large resection specimens.Under the direction of the staff pathologist and the laboratory supervisor. Assists in the preparation and performance of human surgical...
  6. 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...
  7. Pathology Assistant - Fargo, ND Fargo, ND Essentia Health - Fargo
    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...
  8. LAB ASSISTANT- PRN weekends 8a-4:30p 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...
  9. 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...
  10. Support Assistant/Patient Care Assistant Concord Twp. , OH Lake Health
    The Support Assistant / Patient Care Assistant is responsible to the Department Director, Lake Health, and its clients for providing intermediate clerical, scheduling, cashiering and certification activities for clients. Along with for providing...
  11. Nursing Assistant Mobile, AL Infirmary Health
    High school graduate or GED equivalent with average reading, writing and oral communications skills Working knowledge of direct patient care Proof of: Successful completion of Nursing Assistant Program or Medical Assistant Program OR...
  12. Nursing Assistant Mobile, AL Infirmary Health
    High school graduate or GED equivalent with average reading, writing and oral communications skills Working knowledge of direct patient care Proof of: Successful completion of Nursing Assistant Program or Medical Assistant Program OR...
  13. Nursing Assistant Mobile, AL Infirmary Health
    High school graduate or GED equivalent with average reading, writing and oral communications skills Working knowledge of direct patient care Proof of: Successful completion of Nursing Assistant Program or Medical Assistant Program OR...
  14. Medical Assistant Jacksonville, FL Mayo Clinic's Campus in Florida
    The medical assistant performs assigned tasks of direct and indirect care in the ambulatory setting to meet the care needs of patients under the direct supervision of a physician (medical acts) or assigned supervisor. The medical assistant...
  15. MEDICAL ASSISTANT Batesville, IN Margaret Mary Health
    Sign On Bonus $500.00 Department/Location: Orthopaedic Surgery Scheduler- Certified MA Performs medical assistant functions, facilitates communications and assists with patient care from infancy to geriatrics in the outpatient setting....