The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA) was founded in 1972 and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under Ohio state statutes. The objectives of the organization, then and now, are to:
- Benefit and further the profession by promoting and maintaining high standards of ethical conduct.
- Provide continuing education (CE) for its members and work for the development of additional pathologists' assistant training programs.
- Inform the public and medical community as to the goals and professional capabilities of the pathologists’ assistant.
- Implement new programs that will help maintain the status of the AAPA and its members as a vital link in the healthcare chain.
The pathologists’ assistant profession began in 1969 with a pilot training program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in Durham, North Carolina; the program was, and still is, administered through Duke University. A short time later, additional programs were established at VAMCs in Birmingham, Alabama (University of Alabama), and West Haven, Connecticut (Quinnipiac College). These baccalaureate degree programs were the first to formally train men and women to assume responsibility for functions originally performed by anatomic pathologists and other anatomic personnel.
The AAPA held its first annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia, in the fall of 1975. The AAPA Continuing Education & Business Conference continues to be held annually and combines educational seminars with association business meetings. For more information, please visit the Upcoming Meetings page.
In 1993 the AAPA established an affiliation with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS); together, an accreditation process for pathologists' assistant training programs was developed. At present, eight programs in the US and Canada are accredited to train PAs, the majority of which grant a master’s degree upon graduation. For more information, please visit the Training Program page.
The AAPA and American Society for Clinical Pathology partnered to achieve national certification for the pathologists’ assistant in 2004. To earn the PA(ASCP) designation, an individual must now graduate from a NAACLS-accredited pathologists’ assistant training program and subsequently pass the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) examination. Every three years, a certified PA must demonstrate sufficient CE to maintain ASCP certification. ASCP and CMP.
Today, the AAPA has more than 1200 fellow members, composed of graduates of accredited pathologists’ assistant training programs and "on-the-job trained" (OJT) individuals who have successfully met membership requirements. Since its founding, the AAPA has continued to grow and develop on a national level, publishing a quarterly newsletter, developing and maintaining a website, providing CE opportunities to its members and informing the public, medical community and other pathology organizations of its goals and benefits.