There are two ways to train in pathology: become a doctor and specialize
in pathology, or study pathology at the master's and PhD level. The route
you choose depends on your career goals.
You generally need to go to medical school and become an MD to do pathology
work in a hospital. If you want to conduct scientific research, you can either
become an MD or pursue a PhD.
"There is some overlap, in that there are many medically trained pathologists
who are superb researchers, while pure PhDs sometimes work in hospital laboratories,
providing laboratory services," says pathology professor Dr. Richard Hegele.
"The research pathologist can be either a pure MD, a pure PhD or both.
These individuals are interested in basic research into the causes and mechanisms
of disease, and may also have teaching responsibilities," Hegele explains.
Clinical pathologists work on advising other physicians about their patients'
diseases. "Research pathologists use whatever technologies are necessary to
answer specific research questions," says Hegele.
You probably won't find any bachelor's degrees in pathology. However,
you can major in biology, chemistry, biochemistry or medical sciences in preparation
for a master's degree in pathology or for medical school.
You can also specialize in a certain area of pathology. A few specializations
include forensic pathology, veterinary pathology, cytopathology (cell pathology)
and pediatric pathology.
You can do some preparation for your undergraduate degree while you're
in high school. "A strong background in biology, chemistry and physics
is very helpful toward a success in future undergraduate and postgraduate
studies in anatomy, histology, biochemistry and other biomedical sciences,
all of which are relevant to pathology," Hegele says.
Certain extracurricular activities will help, too. Dr. Michael Bissell
of Ohio State University recommends spending time as a volunteer in a hospital
The main costs are tuition and books. Keep in mind that medical textbooks
tend to be pricey.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Medical
For more information related to this field of study, see: Physicians
Pathology education site, designed by a pathologist