Pathology Assistant Certification and Diploma Program Information

Learn about courses commonly found in pathology assistant programs, as well as prerequisites for admission. Also, get details on voluntary certification for pathology assistants.

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Essential Information

Pathologist assistant's programs prepare students to provide pathologists with medical and clerical support, which can include securing medical records and test results, examining specimens, conducting autopsies and documenting medical information. These 2-year programs typically award a master's degree or graduate certificate. Applicants usually need to have a science-based undergrad education.

Pathology assistant students learn about the different fields of pathology, such as clinical, anatomic, cytopathology, neuropathology and hematopathology. Students also receive extensive experience working in medical laboratories and communicating with other medical professionals.

Education Prerequisites

Most universities require that program applicants already hold bachelor's degrees related to the sciences, particularly chemistry, biology or medical technology. Applicants who hold bachelor's degrees in non-science related fields may still be eligible if they complete prerequisite coursework, which usually includes multiple courses in chemistry, math and biology. Some of these prerequisite courses must include laboratory experience.

Course Topics

Since these programs are designed to prepare students to assist pathologists in multiple fields, course topics often cover all the main pathology subfields. Students are also required to complete clinical rotations that allow them to learn from experienced pathologists in different medical settings. Required coursework for the pathologist's assistant program may include:

  • Anatomical pathology
  • Forensic photography
  • Surgical pathology
  • Diagnostic technologies
  • Autopsy pathology

Possible Career Options

Graduating from this program may only prepare individuals for careers as pathology assistants, but workers in this field still have multiple career options. For example, assistants can specialize in different types of pathology. Assistants can also choose to work in different medical settings, such as:

  • Autopsy facilities
  • Medical teaching institutions
  • Clinical pathology laboratories
  • Hospitals
  • Medical examiner departments

Continuing Education Information

Pathologist assistants can pursue voluntary certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification. Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree and completed a recognized pathology assistant program. The certification exam includes multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy, pathology techniques, laboratory operations and pathology fundamentals.

To renew certification every three years, pathologist assistants must complete continuing education coursework in areas such as medical pathology quality control, medical management strategies and anatomic pathology.

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