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Become a PA

Why Become a PA?

A Pathologists’ Assistant (PA) is a highly trained, allied health professional who provides various services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist. Pathologists' Assistants interact with pathologists in a manner similar to physician’s assistants in surgical and medical practice, carrying out their duties under the direction of their physicians. PAs are academically and practically trained to provide accurate and timely processing of a variety of laboratory specimens, including the majority of pathological specimens. However, choosing to be a PA is something bigger than the tasks associated with it. Watch our video to hear directly from our members about why they chose this profession.

How do I become a PA?

There is only one route to become a Pathologists’ Assistant.

You must attend and graduate from a NAACLS accredited program and pass the ASCP certification exam.

  • Classes in:
    • Biology
    • Microbiology
    • Anatomy and physiology
    • Organic Chemistry and/or biochemistry
    • College level mathematics
    • English composition
  • Bachelor’s degree, preferably science, from an accredited institution.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • Shadowing of a practicing Pathologists’ Assistant in a surgical pathology laboratory is highly recommended.
  • Programs are 22-24 months with the first year consisting of didactic coursework and the second year is a clinical rotation through several affiliated hospitals.
  • Coursework includes:
    • Anatomy
    • Physiology
    • Medical Terminology
    • Embryology
    • General Pathology
    • Systemic Pathology
    • Medical Photography
    • Leadership/Management
    • Interprofessionalism
    • Histology
  • NAACLS Accredited Training Programs
  • NAACLS website
  • Once you have graduated from a NAACLS accredited program, you are eligible to take the ASCP certification examination.
  • ASCP Board of Certification website.
  • After successful completion of the examination the designation PA(ASCP) is used and after certification maintenance PA(ASCP)CM is used.
  • You are required to obtain 45* continuing education credits (CE) every three years (*pending change to 60 credits every three years).
  • CE is offered through the AAPA in multiple ways:
    • Annual Spring and Fall Conferences
    • 20 FREE CEs annually
      • Quizzes in The Cutting Edge
      • Eblast quizzes
    • Beyond the Bench series
    • Getting involved and joining a committee
    • Tumor boards and other hospital conferences and lectures

Sustaining Members

2345 Rice St, Suite 220 | St. Paul, MN 55113 | Phone 800.532.AAPA | Fax 651.317.8048 | Email info@pathassist.org