Pathology

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Master of Science Degrees in Pathology

The master’s level graduate program of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine is the pathologists’ assistant program. In this program, students are trained to provide the full range of support in anatomic pathology that’s expected of a Pathologist Assistant, including gross surgical pathology, frozen section preparation, and autopsy pathology—all under the direction and supervision of a qualified anatomic pathologist. This program is not research-based, and no thesis is required. The program is designed for individuals holding baccalaureate degrees in various science-related fields (including clinical laboratory science, cytotechnology, biology and chemistry) who have an interest in pathology, particularly the anatomic aspect of pathology.

Admissions

Admissions

Applications for the Master of Science in Pathology, Pathologists’ Assistant Track, at IU School of Medicine are accepted starting in the fall of the year before desired entry into the program.
Curriculum

Curriculum

The curriculum for the Pathologists’ Assistant MS degree includes a year of basic science courses and a year that highlights anatomic pathology techniques courses and practical experience.
Program FAQ

Program FAQ

Answers to common questions about the Pathologist Assistant program application process are provided.

Working as a Pathologist Assistant

Demand for certified pathologists’ assistants is high, and the employer demand exceeds the supply of pathologists’ assistants produced at present. Pathologists’ Assistants may work in academic medical centers, community hospitals, private laboratories, coroners’ and medical examiners’ offices, and other locations in which their services are needed.

Pathologists’ Assistants are qualified by academic and practical training to provide a range of support services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist. Among these duties is the preparation, gross description and dissection of human tissue surgical specimens including obtaining clinical history, describing gross anatomic features, dissecting surgical specimens, preparing tissues for histologic processing, and photographing all pertinent gross specimens and microscopic slides. Pathologists’ Assistants also prepare human postmortem examinations which involves conferring with the attending pathologists to identify any special techniques and procedures to be utilized in the completion of the postmortem examination; performing postmortem examinations; selecting, preparing and submitting appropriate gross tissue sections; performing special procedures such as coronary artery perfusion, central nervous system perfusion, enucleation, inner ear bone dissection, spinal cord removal, etc.; and organizing information pertinent to the preparation of the preliminary summarization of the clinical history. Other duties typically include freezing tissue removed at surgery in preparation for intra-operative examination by a pathologist and performing administrative, budgetary, supervisory and teaching duties.

Pathologists’ Assistant Accreditation and Certification

Pathologists’ assistant is a recognized specialty accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), which has established the didactic and clinical experiences necessary for effective education of pathologists’ assistants. The IU School of Medicine Program is fully accredited by NAACLS.

Upon completion of an accredited pathologists’ assistant program, graduates are eligible to sit for the pathologists’ assistant certification examination offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Passing the certification examination is not a requirement for MS degree completion, but the credential is required by most employers in the United States.

The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA) is the professional organization for pathologists’ assistants in the United States. The AAPA is the only national organization that unites pathologists’ assistants and provides guidelines for their appropriate practice. More about the responsibilities and career opportunities of pathologists’ assistants is available on the AAPA website.