Master of Science in Pathologists’ Assistant
The pathologists’ assistant (PA) is a highly trained health professional who provides various services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist. The pathologists’ assistant field is a small but growing specialty of health providers. The pathologists’ assistant provides multiple services that increase the efficiency of the laboratory by performing postmortem and surgical gross examinations. They prepare tissue for numerous pathological tests including frozen section, flow cytometry and immunohistochemical staining.
At UTMB in surgical pathology, pathologists’ assistants independently perform a significant portion of the gross processing of specimens, but in addition provide a constant knowledgeable, professional presence in the gross laboratory to supervise and teach residents of varying levels who are assigned to gross specimens. They also assist with the preparation of tissues for frozen sections for intraoperative consultations, with specimens needing special processing or fixation protocols, as for instance those needing flow cytometry or electron microscopy, and in maintaining and implementing policies and procedures relevant to the gross laboratory. Similarly, in the autopsy environment, pathologists’ assistants can independently (under faculty supervision) gather clinical information, perform the gross external and internal autopsy procedures, document the results in the medical record and photographically, and submit microscopic sections. Experienced PA’s write clinical summaries and provisional diagnostic reports. As in surgical pathology, PA’s play a major role in training residents in autopsy techniques and procedures, and assist in updating and documenting policies and procedures.
Pathologists' Assistant Job Market
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies pathologists’ assistants in the same category as physicians’ assistants for job growth projections, and the projection for that category is 30% over the next 10 years. The need for PA’s will increase as the number of surgical specimens increases and as more complex surgeries are being performed at UTMB’s facilities on the mainland. A 23% projected growth in the pathologist workforce is needed to provide for replacement of retiring pathologists as well as to satisfy an increasing healthcare market. Similar to all specialties constituting medicine, PAs enable pathologists to provide patient care more efficiently.
Job prospects will be best for pathologists' assistants who complete an accredited education program and earn professional certification. The Texas Workforce Commission estimates that the demand within Texas laboratory professionals will grow by 20% by the year 2026. As you can see, the demand for pathologists' assistants is growing. You can help meet the challenge!
Pathologists' Assistant's Careers include
- Hospitals and private clinical laboratories
- State and public health laboratories/crime labs
- Industrial labs
- Veterinary Clinics
- Higher Education
- Sales, Pharmaceutical/Industrial
- Armed Forces
- Peace Corps
As a Pathologists' Assistant Professional, you
- Gain competency through formal training and education (such as this degree program)
- Follow the Pathologists' Assistant Scope of Practice
- Maintain and enhance your competency through continuing education
- Confirm your competency through professional certification programs and annual updates based on continuing education
- Follow a code of ethics such as the ASCLS Code of Ethics
For more information about the Laboratory profession, please see this Texas Workforce Commission article or the United States Department of Labor site (earnings).
Pledge to the Profession
As a clinical laboratory professional, I strive to:
- Maintain and promote standards of excellence in performing and advancing the art and science of my profession
- Preserve the dignity and privacy of others
- Uphold and maintain the dignity and respect of our profession
- Seek to establish cooperative and respectful working relationships with other health professionals
- Contribute to the general well being of the community
I will actively demonstrate my commitment to these responsibilities throughout my professional life.
To symbolize the student's commitment to Pathologists' Assistant profession, the Department hosts an annual pinning ceremony.
The practice as a pathologists' assistant requires compassion and sensitivity combined with intellectual maturity, honesty, and curiosity. The Clinical Laboratory Sciences faculty recognizes their responsibility to teach students to be fully aware of the implications of their actions as professional, essential members of the health care team.
To achieve this mission, the program enforces policies and regulations stated in the SHP Bulletin and the UTMB Catalog. Additional policies and regulations established by the program are based on educational and clinical structures and the practical limitations of the program. It is essential that each student understand the regulations, their enforcement, and their rationale prior to beginning their program.