Being a Pathologist | Responsibilities and Requirements

Being a Pathologist

Being a pathologist is a great career with one of the best rewards financially in the medical field. Pathologists are responsible for examining tissue samples and determining what disease the patient might have.

They look at blood, urine and tissue under microscopes and perform autopsies to determine the cause of death.

They also use lab tests to diagnose diseases in living patients. The job requires a lot of training, but it pays well and can be very satisfying.

Here then, is what you need to know about specializing in the same.

Education Requirements

Pathology is an advanced degree specialty, so doctors must first complete medical school and an internship, followed by four years of specialized training in pathology.

During these four years, students work alongside experienced pathologists to learn how to do their autopsies and laboratory tests.

After medical school, students can choose to specialize in pathology or general practice medicine, but those who want to become pathologists must complete a residency program in anatomic pathology for three years.

You are a Diagnostician

Pathologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing diseases and abnormalities through the examination of body tissues and fluids.

Their work can range from microscopic analysis to biopsies or autopsies, depending on the needs of their patients. They examine tissues and fluids to diagnose and classify medical conditions.

Pathologists examine human tissue, blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and organs through direct physical examination or specimen examination including laboratory work.

Tissue samples can be examined directly under a microscope or processed by chemical reactions to prepare them for examination.

For instance, a pathologist may perform a Gram stain on a sample taken from the surface of an infected area to identify bacteria.

You Will Not Prescribe Medications

Pathologists usually do not prescribe medications for their patients but instead, refer their patients to other physicians for evaluation for medication.

While some pathologists may decide to obtain certification in medical oncology or hematology, these are often done by specialists in those fields rather than general (generalist) pathologists.

However, pathologists may be involved in cancer treatment as an assistant in radiation therapy or surgical procedures such as bone marrow extraction or lymph node removal.

There are Many Job Opportunities for You

The range of duties and professionals who work with pathology include:

Medical Technologists – these individuals perform lab tests on blood, tissue, and other samples from patients. They are trained in a specialty field through an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program.

Histotechnicians – these laboratory professionals specialize in processing tissue samples for the analysis of malignant tumors and other diseases.

A bachelor’s degree is required for this position and there are many different areas of specialization as well as extra certifications that can be pursued.

Anatomic Pathologists – this professional is responsible for examining specimens under a microscope to determine the cause of disease, infection or injury.

They also help to diagnose human cellular function at the molecular level. This specialist must complete medical school, a one-year internship and a three-to-four-year residency program in anatomic pathology in order to qualify as a board-certified.

Cytopathologists – these specialists look at cytology specimens (cells) in order to detect cancerous growths, infectious organisms and other abnormalities in order to aid diagnosis and treatment decisions for patients.

This specialist must also complete medical school as well as a one-year internship and a three-to-four-year residency.

You Won’t Work Alone

Pathologists work closely with physicians and surgeons to help diagnose disease. They also work with nurses, lab technicians, medical assistants and other medical professionals to ensure samples are collected correctly before they’re sent to be examined.

You will Perform Autopsies When Necessary

Pathologists need to have excellent communication skills when dealing with their patients and families because they might have to deliver bad news about a patient’s condition or even conduct an autopsy if the cause of death was suspicious.


Being a pathologist means you are the one who determines the cause of death, and you need to possess certain skills to do this.

Pathology is a medical field that requires a lot of studies. Most people don’t know much about pathology and what being a pathologist entails.

Nevertheless, with the above-mentioned facts, we believe you now understand more about this medical field.

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