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How do I Choose the Best Pathology Programs?

Renee Malove
Renee Malove

Pathology, the study of disease through the examination of tissues, organs, and bodily fluids, is among the most necessary fields in the healthcare community. A pathologist presides over a laboratory of technicians and assists physicians in the proper diagnosis of their patients through thorough testing. As a budding pathologist, distinguishing between the multitude of pathology programs available to find an accreditated program with an experienced staff and a good reputation that offers plenty of hands on experience can be one of the most important steps you'll ever take in achieving your goals.

Pathology is a medical specialty, and in most places, a student must have completed a medical degree before entering a pathology program. When investigating pathology programs, it is important to consider where you plan to practice. Much like law, the medical profession has varying requirements in different states or countries, and physicians are required to recertify before practicing in a new jurisdiction. Ideally, where you attend a program should correspond with either the location in which you obtained your medical degree or the place in which you plan to practice.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

When choosing a pathology program, it is important to first investigate its accreditation. While it is unlikely that there would be an unaccredited school offering a pathology program for its adult education students, a degree obtained through such a program is likely to be looked on unfavorably when the time came to pursue a career. This may be particularly true in highly urban areas, where hospitals and laboratories have a large pool of applicants to choose from.

The next factor to look at is the school's reputation. Many countries require incoming pathologists to complete a certification exam prior to allowing them to practice. Pathology programs whose students have consistently done well on these exams are likely to offer not only a strong academic program geared toward helping its students succeed, but also a strong, supportive community that surpasses that of other pathology programs that have not fared as well.

To discover the reputation of a school, look not only at the statistics but also at the opinions offered by previous students and staff. Success in a challenging and competitive pathology program often relies on the ability of the students to learn in a positive environment. The willingness of professors to work one-on-one with their students, and that of the administration to offer their staff and students support, are both necessary when working with adult students, especially doctors who may be continuing to practice and have extensive demands on their time.

Good pathology programs should employ a successful and experienced staff of practitioners with real-life experience. It should also offer students ready access to hands-on clinical scenarios. Your success in any pathology program relies strongly on the ability of the staff to prepare you not only for the challenges of their academic environment, but also for those you will face when entering the medical profession as a certified pathologist.

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