What does a Pathologist do?
Pathologists work in testing centers, research labs and hospitals to provide other Doctors and patients with scientific confirmation of disorders, diseases and other conditions. They mostly spend time studying and interpreting samples in the lab. Pathologists collect specimens, then examine and identify the particular bacteria or virus that resulted in a patient’s symptoms and communicate the biopsy or test results to the patient’s attending Doctor.
They also store medical specimens, prepare slides, design laboratory tests and observe lab technicians. A Pathologist may also be responsible for performing an autopsy on a dead body to identify cause of death or recognize abnormalities in the body.
Pathologist skills and qualifications
Pathologists must undergo many years of schooling and hands-on training to obtain a job. Skills and qualifications often earned include:
- Technological skills are needed because Pathologists use both clinical and other computerized equipment. They should also be up-to-date with the latest laboratory technology.
- Pathologists should have dexterity in order to use their hands effectively. They work with various tools, like needles and other lab precision tools, and they must handle these tools well to minimize mistakes.
- Being detail oriented is a skill Pathologists must have in order to follow instructions and perform lab tests correctly.
- Physical stamina is important because Pathologists work on their feet for long periods of time. They also need to lift or turn some patients over to collect samples for testing.
Pathologist education and training requirements
Pathologists usually have a bachelor’s degree in life science or medical technology areas. They take courses in biology, statistics, chemistry and microbiology. Pathologists then need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to enter medical school. Following medical school, students enter three to four years of a pathology residency.
There is also a clinical part of the program that provides hands-on training. This is typically done in a hospital setting and gives students some work experience. The training is done the last two years of the program. Many Pathologists pursue an additional one- to two-year fellowship in a pathology subspecialty.
Pathologist experience requirements
Pathologists usually gain experience through their training programs in the medical field. Since the medical field is accompanied by hands-on training, Pathologists are usually required to follow a clinical part of their medical school training.
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