What is a Pathologists’ Assistant?

A Pathologists’ Assistant is a highly trained, certified allied healthcare professional who is qualified by academic and practical training to provide various services in anatomic pathology under the direction and supervision of a licensed, Board Certified or Board Eligible Anatomic Pathologist. Pathologists’ Assistants are academically and practically trained to provide accurate and timely processing of a variety of laboratory specimens, including comprehensive macroscopic examination and evaluation of all surgical pathological specimens. Pathologists’ Assistants also perform postmortem examinations including prosection, assisting the Pathologist with rendering the provisional anatomic diagnosis, composing the clinical history, recording the macroscopic anatomic findings, and submitting tissue sections for microscopic examination.

Pathologists’ Assistants play a critical role in the delivery of healthcare services in both surgical pathology and autopsy pathology. They are key partners in assisting the Pathologist to arrive at a pathologic diagnosis, but it is the sole responsibility of the Pathologist to render a diagnosis. Pathologists’ Assistants often are responsible for the organization and operational management of the surgical pathology suite and the anatomic pathology service. This may comprise personnel management including supervising accessioners, lab aides, grossing technicians, and transcriptionists in the surgical pathology suite and autopsy technicians/morgue assistants in the autopsy room; writing and reviewing surgical pathology and autopsy procedures; inventory control; laboratory operations such as quality assurance, quality control, accreditation inspection preparation, and budgeting; and in the academic setting, supervision of learners (e.g., Pathologists’ Assistant students, medical students, post‐sophomore fellows, and residents) and providing shadowing experiences to prospective Pathologists’ Assistant students, and college or high school students interested in healthcare.

To find out more, the following online resources are recommended :

  • https://www.pathassist.org/
  • https://explorehealthcareers.org/career/allied-health-professions/pathologists-assistant/
  • https://thepathologist.com/subspecialties/the-pathologists-assistant
By Malakia Silcott
Malakia Silcott Associate Director