Pathology

Pathology is the exploration of human diseases and disorders through the examination of cells, tissue and bodily fluids. Learn about the growth of employment in the field, educational programs, coursework and salary info.

Is Pathology For Me?

Career Overview

Pathology is a field that involves the study of the human body's immunity and response to diseases. As a pathologist, you may spend time analyzing blood, body fluid and cell samples in order to find the root of a patient's pain or medical complication. Once a cause is determined, doctors can use the pathologist's diagnosis to develop a treatment plan for their patients. Pathologists rarely work with patients and are typically employed at academic institutions and laboratories.

Employment

If you're interested in working in the field of pathology, now may be a favorable time to pursue your career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), excellent job prospects are expected for medical and clinical laboratory technicians from 2012-2022, with a growth rate of 30% expected, which is much faster than average for all occupations (www.bls.gov); an employment increase of 14% is predicted for medical and clinical laboratory technologists, who typically perform more complex duties than technicians. This employment increase is expected to be fueled by a growing population of older Americans that will likely need expanded medical care.

The BLS also reported that in 2012, medical and clinical lab technicians earned median annual pay of $37,240, while medical and clinical lab technologists earned median annual pay of $57,580. Salary.com reported in March 2014 that the 10th-90th percentile pay range for physicians specializing in pathology was $178,838-$337,747; the median salary was $246,469.

How Can I Work in Pathology?

Education

A pathology degree is available at the graduate and post-graduate levels, and pre- and post-medical school students are welcomed by pathology programs. A bachelor's degree in biology or chemistry can be a good foundation for those interested in pursuing a master's degree or doctorate in pathology. At the undergraduate level, you may take courses like biochemistry, anatomy, histology, embryology, neuroscience, infectious diseases, preventative health and physics.

The field of pathology is research intensive. Graduate students can specialize in a specific area of pathology such as inflammation, biology or immunity. Coursework may include toxicological pathology, anatomic pathology, environmental science, morphology and DNA repair. A research project focused on your specialty that's submitted and published can sometimes be considered the culmination of your graduate work.

Fellowship and residency programs in areas such as anatomic, experimental and clinical pathology are offered to medical doctors. Residencies and fellowships require clinical training in areas such as autopsies, cytopathology, forensic pathology, surgical pathology, diagnostic immunology, hematology and coagulation and molecular diagnostics. Residents are often expected to work on research in addition to these training rotations.

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