A pathology assistant can perform any of the tasks that a pathologist performs except diagnose disease, and there are various types of pathology assistant jobs available. A person with a pathology assistant degree might conduct research, perform and interpret medical tests, use his or her knowledge of anatomy to conduct dissections and autopsies and take care of equipment and administrative tasks. Pathology assistant jobs can be found in laboratories, hospitals, medical centers, school systems, rehabilitation facilities and pediatric centers. Pathology assistants also are often needed in convalescent homes, extended care facilities, home healthcare agencies and morgues.
Pathology assistant jobs include a wide range of tasks. For example, a speech pathology assistant works with clients in all age groups to help them with a range of communication disorders. The assistant is trained to screen patients and prepare all of the paperwork for each case. He or she can also administer the plan for treatment, schedule sessions and document the results of each session. In addition, the speech and language pathology assistant might be required to set up and maintain equipment and provide other tasks to support the speech pathologist.
A pathology assistant who works in a morgue learns how to set up equipment for an autopsy and take care of the required paperwork such as medical records, release forms and reports. He or she might also conduct postmortem examinations under the supervision of a licensed pathologist. The assistant's other duties might include preparation of tissue samples for testing, photographing specimens and performing all of the tasks necessary to release a body to the funeral home.
In a histologic laboratory, a pathology assistant performs tasks similar to those of a pathology assistant working in a morgue. He or she prepares specimens for the licensed pathologist to analyze and examine by treating the specimens with chemicals, slicing the specimens and mounting them on slides. The assistant will also set up and maintain equipment, take care of paperwork, order supplies and perform all of the duties required to support the pathologist.
Pathology assistant jobs are in high demand because the pathologist assistant can do most of the work that a licensed pathologist can do, saving the facility money and freeing up the pathologist’s time, allowing him or her to focus on more specialized tasks. An experienced pathology assistant can even train a medical resident or a new pathologist. The salary for pathology assistants can vary greatly and are based on the person's level of education and experience. The range of salaries for pathology assistants typically is higher in the industries with the heaviest demand, such as hospitals, medical centers and pathology labs.