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Pathologist / Pathology
Purpose and Mission
Pathologists are medical doctors who specialize in the nature, causes and course of diseases that impact humans. Tissue samples examined in pathology labs are used to diagnose cancers and infectious diseases, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Forensic pathologists assist law enforcement with criminal cases by testing blood, body secretions and tissue samples in the lab try and find out the cause of illness or death.
You can be a general/clinical pathologist or choose to specialize in anatomical pathology, chemical pathology, genetic pathology, forensic pathology, haematology, immunopathology or microbiology.
Most pathologists are employed in hospitals, clinics or by a range of different government agencies. This means they generally report to a senior pathologist or department head. Some pathologists have formed their own private practice groups, in which case they may not have a direct supervisor.
Senior pathologists are often responsible for oversight of a specific pathology lab or lab facility, including supervision and evaluation of junior pathologists and other technical staff.
A pathologist is a medical doctor who has a degree from four-year college, has graduated from medical school, and has undertaken a clinical internship program of at least two years.
Like in other medical specialties, you must apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) for an additional five-year training program to earn a fellowship in pathology.
Responsibilities of a Pathologist
In general, pathologists are employed by labs in large public or private practices, or in public and private hospitals. They are involved in many aspects of diagnosis and treatment, but are not typically directly involved in patient care.
Keep in mind that pathology is a team effort, and pathologists work closely with laboratory technicians, medical specialists and researchers.
The primary responsibility of a pathologist is to determine nature, cause, development and clinical management of diseases by observing the structural and functional changes relating to the conditions.
In specific a pathologist prepares (or supervises preparation of) tissue sections from various sources for close examination. She tests bodily fluids and tissues for the presence of chemical substances, microbiological organisms, and various known responses to disease processes.
A pathologist performs autopsies to find out the cause of death, the nature and extent of disease and/or injury, and the impact of treatment.
Most pathologists also spend a good bit of time writing reports on their lab findings to send to other medical doctors, coroners and government officials.