Pathologist assistants have an interesting career and can work directly with pathologists to help them carry out many of their tasks. The role they play is similar to that of a physician’s assistant in a doctor’s office, but different in the duties that may be required, which may include assisting with autopsies. The field can be interesting and a great fit for those who want to work in or learn more about the forensic sciences. People who generally will excel in forensic pathologist careers are able to stay calm and patient and do not have difficulty helping with autopsies or related work.
People who choose to study pathologist assistant programs may be able to pursue work in pathology labs, research centers, hospitals, medical schools, and the offices of medical examiners after they complete their needed schooling.
The programs for becoming a pathologist’s assistant vary slightly depending on the school that a student attends, but they will generally be programs that students take at either the bachelor’s or master’s degree level. Students should look at the requirements and the types of programs the schools they are considering have to offer. Some of the most popular universities that offer these programs include Wayne State University in Detroit that offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Pathologist Assistant (PathA) degree and Drexel University in Philadelphia that offers a Master’s of Science in Pathologist Assistant degree.
The coursework that students could take in one of the pathologist assistant programs may include many different subjects, such as physiology, neuroscience, anatomy, pathology, and histology. As they progress through one of the pathology assisting schools, they will find other courses that cover medical terminology and that specifically focus on the duties and the roles of the pathologist’s assistant.
When their schooling is completed, pathologist assistants are going to become eligible to become certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which offers a variety of technician and laboratory assistant certifications. However, the primary professional organization for those in this field is the American Association of Pathologist’s Assistants, which strives to ensure that members are current with the latest knowledge and techniques in the field. The organization also provides continuing medical education credits, which pathologist assistants have to complete every three years. This helps to keep them updated with new information and refresh them on techniques and knowledge they might not use regularly in their job.
When it comes to pathology assistant programs, there are going to be some available in hybrid forms, meaning that is it possible to do some of the work online through distance learning and the other work in a traditional classroom setting. Students in these types of programs may find that it is many of the general education classes that are available online. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, for example, is a North Chicago-based school that offers some online learning. However, it is important to remember that only part of the program will be available through distance learning at these schools. A large part of the program is going to be hands-on training and lab work, and gaining experience working with pathologists and assisting with autopsies.
The schools that offer pathology assistant programs all need to have accreditation from the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The organization ensures that the programs at the schools are operating at the highest possible level so that those students who come through the program are ready for the type of work they may find. Those who are looking for programs and classes that will help to prepare them to enter the field need to be certain they are completing a degree through an accredited school to ensure the highest standards of education are being offered.
Barry is Managing Editor of ForensicsColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Barry was previously VP for a financial software company, and currently sits on the board of a K-8 school and lives with his wife and daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area.