Clinical/anatomic pathologists are specialized doctors who examine human tissue samples to try to cure diseases or find ways to mitigate chronic conditions. Pathologists in general are essentially like detectives, but work to figure out how diseases affect human beings. This can include some of the prosaic work familiar to television viewers, while clinical/anatomic pathologists race against time to help doctors with diagnoses to save afflicted patients. The work can also be directed postmortem to help determine causes of death and mitigating factors.
Clinical pathologists typically analyze blood, bodily fluids, and other specimens drawn from patients, while anatomical pathologists examine physical tissue samples collected through biopsies and small extractions. In many labs the jobs are combined, which creates the position of an clinical/anatomical pathologist. Regardless of the nature of the specimens examined, the goal is similar: these specialized pathologists work in a laboratory environment which allows them to make physical observations of samples and collect data from computerized spectrometers, chromatographs, and centrifuges.
Clinical/anatomical pathologists usually issue a finding from the tissue samples examined, and these findings offer probabilities based on various conditions, diseases, or malformations present. For living patients, the pathologist may recommend a likely treatment, while in a case of postmortem examination, the pathologist may offer their findings to attending physicians to be combined with other known aspects of the patient for determining a cause of death.
A clinical/anatomical pathologist not only needs a medical degree and certification to practice medicine, but also specialized education and training, which typically includes extensive laboratory study in college and extended residency and internship before earning professional recognition. Clinical/anatomical pathologists typically work regular hours in a hospital or clinical laboratory setting.
Clinical / Anatomic Pathologist Tasks
Research and understand the nature of diseases to improve patient diagnosis and treatment.
Provide testing results and treatment advice to other physicians and specialists.
Perform diagnostic testing and analysis on patient body tissue specimens.
Train and educate medical students and staff as required.