How to Become a Pathologist

A pathologist is a medical doctor who studies blood, body fluids, organs and tissue to search for medical conditions and diagnose disease and illness. Pathologists use samples to perform a variety of diagnostic tests to reach a diagnosis and form a recommendation for treatment. Pathologists also interpret laboratory information to solve complex medical mysteries. They then provide the information to primary care physicians who advise the patient regarding treatment. Pathologists often work with other medical personnel and typically do not have direct contact with the patient. Pathologists also do postmortem examinations to determine the cause of death. Pathologists do scientific research into drugs and disease. Companies developing new drugs need pathologists to study the safety of the drugs [source: education-portal]. Here's how to become a pathologist.

  1. Study biology and chemistry while in high school.
  2. Earn a bachelor's degree. You should major in premedical studies, biology and chemistry.
  3. Earn a master's degree in pathology, microbiology or biochemistry. This is an optional step, which would equip you to work in a laboratory or to assist a certified pathologist. If you're certain you want to be a pathologist yourself, you may want to go straight to medical school.
  4. Attend medical school for four years and receive Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.
  5. Do a four-year residency, working in a hospital [source: WUSTL].
  6. Get your certification. Medical pathologists must be licensed by their state to practice medicine and must be certified by the American Board of Pathology.
  7. Seek employment. You can work in a hospital, clinic or laboratory, as well as in consulting etc. The field is wide open.