How to Become a Pathologist

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Pathology is a field of medicine that deals with studying and diagnosing diseases and conditions through examining bodily fluids, organs, and tissues. Specially trained doctors are required to study and test these aspects of the body to provide information to primary care physicians and other medical personnel. This is the job of pathologists.

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What does a pathologist do?

A pathologist is a medical doctor that studies blood, bodily fluid, organs, and tissues to search for medical conditions and diagnose diseases and illnesses. They also examine the effects from injury on body tissues. They use samples to perform a variety of diagnostic tests to reach a diagnosis and form a recommendation for treatment. They then provide the information to primary care physicians who can in turn advise the patient. Pathologists also interpret laboratory information to solve complex issues. They monitor the effects of treatment and medication.

Pathologists often work with many other medical personnel to perform tests and they typically do not have direct contact with patients. Some pathologists work on samples from living patients to diagnose and treat conditions and others deal with the deceased and perform autopsies to determine causes of death.

What kind of training does a pathologist need?

Pathologists must have an undergraduate degree in a scientific discipline and a medical degree from an accredited medical school. They must also complete internships and residency training in pathology. Many pathologists complete additional training in a pathology specialty such as cytopathlogy, gynecologic pathology, surgical pathology, clinical pathology, neuropathology, pediatric pathology, and forensic pathology. Pathologists must stay current on technological advances in the field and constantly complete continuing education throughout their careers. All states require pathologists to be licensed to practice. Many states also require pathologists to be board certified by the American Board of Pathology.

What are the prospects for a career as a pathologist?

Employment of all physicians and surgeons is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Medical advances and the increased need for professionals to study bodily fluids will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be great especially for pathologists with specialties and those with advanced education and experience. Job opportunities will also arise from the need to replace pathologists who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do pathologists make?

s of October 2009, the middle 50% of pathologists earned average annual salaries between $194,145 and $276,505. The top 10% earned average annual salaries of more than $309,621 (2).

A career as a pathologist is a great choice for individuals who are interested in studying blood, bodily fluids, and related tissues for diagnosing conditions. Pathologists must have excellent eye-hand coordination, be detail-oriented, and be persistent. They must be patient when dealing with complicated medical conditions and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they interact with many other medical professionals.

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