The pathologist assistant salary can be anywhere between $70,000 and $100,000 per year. Over time, proficiency and experience help a pathologist assistant earn more than $100,000 per year. It’s a steady, well-paying and fulfilling career in an industry that’s booming despite the recession.
Pathology involves the studying and diagnosing of diseases by examining organs, cells, body fluids and tissues. Pathologist assistants work under the direct supervision of a licensed pathologist. Duties and responsibilities include:
- What they have learnt in the pathology PA course
- What the pathologist authorizes them (in writing) to do (based on their experience)
- What the state allows them to do, or prohibits or limits them from doing
A pathologist assistant, just like all physician assistants, is subject to checks and balances. If they order tests then the testing institute must have a mechanism in place to ensure that the PA’s recommendation is in the best interests of the patient. Conditions and limitations like these vary from state to state.
Why is the Pathologist Assistant Salary High?
It’s because of the nature and importance of the job. Pathology helps discover the root cause of a disease and everything else (treatment, therapeutics, etc.) is based on the pathology and other diagnostic reports. Pathology discovers and enables healthcare professionals in eliminating medical conditions that impact the community.
What does a Pathologist Assistant do?
A pathologist assistant provides anatomical and pathological services under the direct supervision of a licensed pathologist. There are three types of anatomic pathology assistants – cytopathology assistants (involves examination of cells), surgical pathology assistants (examination of tissues), and autopsy assistants (examination of body).
A pathologist assistant can prepare and dissect specimens, obtain and examine medical histories, prepare tissues for procedures like histology, photograph specimens, perform postmortems, and even be involved in administrative functions.
Most pathologist assistants opt for surgical pathology as the pathologist assistant salary is high in this area of medicine.
How to Become a Pathology Assistant?
You should ideally hold a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or medical technology. People with such degrees are encouraged to apply to an accredited Pathologists’ Assistant Program. A bachelor’s degree in another science area can also work.
The training program is typically broken down into 2 parts. The first part involves training and lasts for about 12 months. It is followed by 10-12 months of clinical work. Many students join the program after gaining experience in clinical laboratory science and cytotechnology.
After the program is complete, students must pass the national certification exam and obtain a license from the state. After completing the program, the graduate is conferred a Master’s degree.
American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) is the official pathologists’ association. It also imparts continuing education. Every practicing pathologist assistant must keep their license current and active at all times.
The demand for pathology assistants is on the rise. American states also have started specifying more duties and responsibilities for physician assistants. The doctors too look up to their PAs and allot them duties based on their training, experience and limitations specified by the state. The pathologist assistant salary typically starts at $70,000 per year and the demand for such assistants outstrips their supply and all graduates can expect to receive employment letters before leaving their program. These PAs find work in hospitals, pathology labs, research centers, academic institutes, and medical examiner facilities.
Before you apply for the course, ensure that you have completed the following training:
- English Composition (1 semester)
- General Biology, General Chemistry (1 year)
- Microbiology, Bio Chemistry, Organic Chemistry (1 semester)
- Aptitude testing
- GRE/MCAT and TOEFL, if English is not your first language
Some programs may also require anatomy, histology, cell biology statistics, immunology, genetics, or more. Requirements vary from institute to institute and therefore you must check and compare programs of different institutes to ensure that you apply right. You must make a decision well in advance because institutes admit only a few students. You need to plan carefully for this course.
Before you consider the career, talk to a practicing pathologist assistant and find out what’s involved in real life.
This was about the career and the reasons why a pathologist assistant salary is so high. It’s a noble profession that helps the nation know what’s wrong with it and maintain its health, and thereby contribute positively to national growth.