Pathologists are problem-solvers, fascinated by the process of disease and eager to unlock medical mysteries, such as cancer, AIDS and diabetes, using the sophisticated tools and methods of modern laboratory science. A pathologist is a physician who examines tissues, checks the accuracy of lab tests and interprets the results in order to facilitate the patient’s diagnosis and treatment. With today’s rapid advances in biomedical science, thousands of laboratory tests on blood and body fluids are available – many of which require a pathologist’s expert interpretation.
The explosion of genomics research and testing is revolutionizing the practice of medicine. In this evolving health care environment, the pathologist plays an essential role in guiding clinicians to select the appropriate diagnostic test for patients. He or she works closely with the patient’s other doctors and is a critical member of the patient’s primary health care team. Pathologists work in many areas of the medical laboratory, often serving as lab director.
Pathologists may specialize:
Some pathologists devote their careers to research in pathology, developing new tests and new instruments to better diagnose diseases.
Pathologists often teach their specialty to medical students and those preparing for other laboratory professions, including clinical lab technology and cytotechnology, among others.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology offers more information for students interested in this career.
There are approximately 15,000 board-certified pathologists in the United States who practice their specialty in university, government and community hospitals; in independent laboratories; or in private offices, clinics and other health care facilities.
Starting salaries for newly certified pathologists range from about $150,000 to $180,000 annually.
Twenty Years Later: What I Know Now That I Wish I Had Known Then
Part 1: How to Attend College Without Going into Too Much Debt
Criminal Background Check? But, I’m Not A Criminal!
AAMC Minority Student Medical Career Awareness Workshops and Recruitment Fair
Questions to Ask Before Making a Financial Investment in Your Health Sciences Education
Making the Most of Your Shadowing Experiences
Applying for Financial Aid (Part II)
Are You Credit Ready and Credit Worthy?
Why Diversity Matters in the Health Professions
Start Preparing for Your Health Care Career in High School
Reconciliation Act of 2010 Includes Significant Student Aid Provisions
Healthcare Reform 101
Keep Past Mistakes from Limiting Your Future Health Care Career
Making a Major Decision
Three Things to Look for in a Pre-health Enrichment Program
Top 10 Reasons to Pursue a Health Career Now
After completing the requisite four years of medical school, pathologists train as residents for an additional four to five years before they are eligible to take board certification examinations. Many pathologists also undertake additional training in a subspecialty of pathology.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology provides more information and related resources on pursuing a degree in pathology.
Search for funding opportunities related to this career
Search for enrichment programs related to this career
Search for academic degree and certificate programs related to this career
Last updated: April 29, 2016
©2012 American Dental Education Association