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Study biological samples from patients to help diagnose diseases.

What does a Pathologist do?

Pathologists are Doctors who specialize in the development of diseases. They study tissues, blood and other bodily fluids at microscopic levels to determine what kind of disease a patient is suffering from. If you’re interested in being a Pathologist, you’re both setting yourself up to be the one of the most important people on a medical team, plus giving yourself have a lot of options. Since pathology is so broad, Pathologists further specialize as they advance. Which means you’ve got big decisions to make.

You’re probably most familiar with Forensic Pathologists from television shows. They determine causes of death by examining victims that end up in the morgue. But many more Pathologists work with living patients. Other common subspecialties of pathology include surgical pathology, which analyzes structures like tumors removed from the body; cytopathology, which studies whole cells like blood cells; and molecular pathology, which explores diseases at the level of cell particles like DNA.

Two skills will make you stand out as a Pathologist no matter what path you chose to take: investigation and communication. A Pathologist’s main benefit to any medical team is his or her ability to investigate connecting threads between various diseases. If you can see these commonalities, your advice will be more accurate and, therefore, more valuable. It also means you save more lives.

Communication is vital because a disease’s symptoms will always be described differently, whether you are talking to Doctors or patients. Deducing that “achy joints” could be the same symptom as “knee pain” can make the difference between a diagnosis and a mystery.