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Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: What is a Pathologists' Assistant?

A:  A pathologists' assistant is an intensively trained allied healthcare professional who provides surgical and autopsy pathology services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist.  For more information, please visit our What is a PA? page.

Q: What level work can Pathologists' Assistants perform?

A:  Pathologists' assistants can perform all of the surgical and autopsy functions of a pathologist, except making the diagnosis. PAs are qualified to gross surgical specimens, perform frozen sections and autopsies, procure samples for tissue banking, instruct residents and pathology personnel, prepare tumor board presentations and provide administrative and managerial functions within the laboratory.  For more information, please visit our PA Scope of Practice section of our What is a PA? page.

Q: If any, what kind of certification does a Pathologists' Assistant have?

A:  Pathologists' assistants may become certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology's Board of Certification. Only pathologists' assistants who are certified by the ASCP may use the official designation PA(ASCP) after their name.

Q: How would hiring a Pathologists' Assistant benefit my organization?

A: Pathologists' assistants contribute to the overall efficiency of the laboratory or pathology practice in a cost effective manner. With increased pressure on healthcare systems to control costs, the demand for qualified pathologists' assistants is growing every year.

Q: How much work can a Pathologists' Assistant perform (how many should I hire)?

A:  The number of PAs will vary, depending upon the setting, workload and the number of tasks that the PA performs. A sole PA can gross approximately 15,000 surgicals annually, but that number decreases with specimen complexity and is also decreased when additional tasks are assigned to the PA.

Q: What is the salary range?

A:  New program graduate salaries range from high $70K to $90K with experienced PAs earning as much as the low six figures annually. Factors that influence a PA's salary include experience, workload, setting and regional cost of living. Sign-on, retention and annual bonuses are commonplace. AAPA salary surveys are conducted annually, with results available to AAPA members.

Q: How do I hire a Pathologists' Assistant?

A:  The most effective way to advertise your job opening is through the AAPA website's Job Hotline. The fee is currently $295 to have your ad published for a length of three (3) months. AAPA members are able to access the Job Hotline 24 hours a day.  For more information, please visit our Employers page.

Q: What is requred to maintain ASCP certification?

A:  ASCP certification is valid for 3 years. Renewal is through the ASCP's Certification Maintenance Program (CMP) and is predicated on continuing medical education (CE). To renew certification, a PA must accrue at least 45 CE credits over each three-year certification period.  For more information, please visit ASCP's Credential Maintenance page


Sustaining Members

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