Career Exploration: Becoming a Pathologist

April 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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If you are the kind of person who likes to solve problems, can notice the smallest detail, and loves the field of science, then a career as a pathologist might be right for you. There are a number of different specialties within pathology – you can pursue a career as a clinical pathologist, anatomic pathologist, or forensic pathologist.  This last one is particularly popular as our love for crime dramas has grown over the last twenty years. Learn more about the details of this important career!

Education and Training

To become a pathologist, you can expect a standard education and training track as any other medical doctor.  Complete four years of undergraduate study and another four years in medical school.  Pre medical students interested in a pathology career should consider classes in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and infectious diseases.  The microscope will become your best friend as you learn the skills needed to be a successful pathologist. You will then undertake a residency of four to five years depending upon your specialty.  Becoming a board certified pathologist is the best route to earning a high salary and obtaining a rewarding position as a pathologist.

Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a pathologist are varied and depend on the specialty that you pursue.  As a clinical pathologist, you’ll spend a lot of time examining the fluids of the human body, especially blood. As a microbiology pathologist, you’ll examine the viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause harm to the human body.  As an anatomic pathologist, your specialty will be diagnosing disease Listening for the babies heartbeat. through an examination of tissue biopsies. The most well known pathologist is the forensic pathologist who examines evidence collected at crime scenes to help solve cases.  Working as a pathologist is not for the squeamish. You’ll be examining blood, tissue, infectious diseases, and other unsavory materials. If you are sensitive and easily disgusted, this may not be the right path for you! Strong stomachs only need apply!

Pathologists work in a number of settings, including hospitals, clinics, research labs, government facilities, and private corporations. Because it’s critical that pathologists work in a sterile, sanitized environment, expect your work setting to be clean, orderly, and well organized.  If you possess these traits as well, you’ll be very comfortable working in pathology.

Career Outlook and Salaries

The career outlook for pathologists is excellent.  There are currently 14,000 board certified practicing pathologists in the US, and this number is expected to grow as our population ages, as medical technology advances, and as the demand for more specific medical diagnoses continues to grow.  As a newly minted pathologist, you can expect to earn up to $150,000; your salary will continue to grow as you develop your diagnostic pathology skills and assume more responsibility, especially if you become a Lab Director.

If you like to solve problems, have a keen eye for small details, can work both independently and as part of a team, and are interested in being on the cutting edge of medical advances, consider a career in pathology! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.