The first step to become a pathology assistant is to research the profession because due to the nature of the work, there are a set of personality traits you will need in addition to education and experience. Most positions prefer employees to have at least a bachelor's of science (B.S.) degree in a science or medical field, but there are several pathology assistant programs that offer different types of certification. These programs will prepare you to become a pathology assistant but may not increase job opportunities. Experience is needed because this medical profession involves examining many components of the human body, administering and analyzing diagnostic tests, participating in postmortem examinations, and numerous other medical procedures.
Choosing a four year undergraduate university should be based on the school's available programs, and to become a pathology assistant you should seek a school with a pathology based nursing program or an advanced biological sciences degree program. The first year will consist of general coursework, which is generally required before taking advanced courses in your field. After successful completion of the first two semesters, you should enroll in courses such as microbiology, clinical pathology, physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, and a variety of other sciences needed to enter a medical profession. During your four year program, you should begin applying to various pathology assistant internships to gain experience.
Internships in this field are offered through many universities and will help you to build the hands-on skills needed to become a pathology assistant. These programs are designed to take a broad approach to the field in order to cover extensive material in a relatively short period of time. During the program, you may be asked to participate in prosection, technical writing in regards to autopsy discoveries, evisceration, examination of specimens, and handling cadavers. Most of this experience usually takes place in a lab and may cover the cutting procedures for the brain, heart, and lungs. Some internships may conclude with skill assessment exercises, written and verbal exams, and reviews by faculty members.
This job often includes examining postmortem specimens, so you should be physically and mentally comfortable with duties of this nature. In addition, you should display excellent communications skills, problem solving abilities, patience, and coordination in order to successfully become a pathology assistant. Many students choose to work on their master's degree in pathology or a related field to increase career options and advancement opportunities.