An advanced degree is usually needed to become a chemical pathologist, who looks at biochemical processes in the body. These medical specialists study the role of such processes in the development of disease. Topics of interest can include metabolic disorders and changes to the body created by chronic infections. Substantial training is needed to prepare for work in this field, whether it involves direct patient care or research.
One way to become a chemical pathologist is to pursue medical training, complete a pathology residency, and complete additional education in chemical pathology. The precise educational path followed by doctors can vary between nations, and may involve varying amounts of time in school. Generally, medical students and doctors should expect classroom education, lab work, and clinical interactions with patients while they prepare for careers in chemical pathology.
It is also possible to receive a doctorate or post-doctorate degree in chemical pathology to prepare for this career. Those who pursue this route to become a chemical pathologist may work primarily in research. If they want to be able to participate in patient care, they may need to consider a combined MD/PhD program to achieve this goal. Such programs provide a mixed education to people who want both qualifications. Training times can vary, and may be similar to those seen in medical education.
Those with an interest in this career may be involved in research while training to become a chemical pathologist. Participation in studies may pave the way to further research, which can be important for job applications and career development. Research opportunities are often available through advisers and mentors in university settings, and people can also apply to join specific research teams pursuing topics of interest. Publications in research journals may be valuable for those who seek to become chiefs of staff or attain other high ranking positions.
Continuing education once someone has become a chemical pathologist is also important. Conferences, trade journals, and workshops provide opportunities to learn more about what is new in the field. These developments can improve the quality of patient care and shed light on research.
In some cases, employers may provide compensation for or assistance with participation in continuing education; pathology departments, for example, often maintain journal subscriptions for the benefit of their staff. For physicians, continuing education may be required to retain a medical license, in which case it is important to make sure courses, conferences, and other opportunities qualify for the requirements.