How to become a Pathologist

Pathologists identify and diagnose the presence of diseases in their various stages and possible sources of infection in body tissues, fluids, secretions and other scientific specimens.

Personal requirements for a Pathologist

  • Self-confidence
  • Able to relate to people from different cultural backgrounds
  • Able to make clear and precise observations
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Able to exercise high ethical standards
  • Well organised and able to prioritise tasks
  • A high degree of motivation and self-discipline.

Duties & Tasks of a Pathologist

Pathologists may perform the following tasks:

  • Study the nature, cause, development and clinical management of diseases in people, as well as the structural and functional changes caused by them
  • Prepare, or supervise the preparation of, tissue sections from surgical and diagnostic cases and autopsies
  • Examine bodily fluids and tissues for the presence and measurement of chemical substances, microbiological organisms (such as HIV and hepatitis C), and chemical and other biological responses to disease processes
  • Examine tissues using scientific techniques and equipment to determine the nature, cause and progression of disease
  • Perform autopsies to determine causes of death, the nature and extent of disease and injury, and the effect of treatment
  • Supervise and coordinate the work of technical officers and technicians
  • Write reports of findings for use by other medical practitioners and coroners
  • Direct the activities of pathology departments in hospitals, private clinics or laboratories, or other locations.

Working conditions for a Pathologist

They often work with a wide range of health professionals in caring for patients. Working conditions are usually comfortable, although they may sometimes deal with unpleasant conditions due to a patient's infection or illness. Adopting strict hygiene practices is important. During training, pathologists may have to work long, demanding and irregular hours. This may include working on weekends and at night or being on call 24 hours a day.


Specializations

Pathologists may specialise in the areas of anatomical or chemical pathology, genetics, haematology, immunology or microbiology. They may also train in general pathology, providing a combination of disciplines. For dentists, there is a specialisation in oral pathology.


Pathologist

Pathologists identify and diagnose the presence of diseases in their various stages and possible sources of infection in body tissues, fluids, secretions and other scientific specimens.

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