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Employ a PA

Having a PA on Your Team

Why hire a PA?

A certified pathologists' assistant is an asset to any laboratory team. Certified PAs are specifically trained in grossing/dissection techniques and pathology oriented clinical medicine, creating an individual whose expertise is in anatomic pathology tissue specimens. As a pathologist "physician extender", certified PAs are qualified under CLIA '88 to do the "high complexity testing" of grossing with minimal oversight. Though a board-certified pathologist is still needed to render the final diagnosis, freeing the pathologist from grossing will allow for more time at the microscope, allowing for faster patient diagnosis.

In terms of laboratory cost savings, a certified pathologists’ assistant can be very beneficial. One certified PA can service several pathologists by handling all gross room functions, keeping all pathologists at the scope, equating to a faster workflow at approximately one third of the cost of a full-time pathologist. Certified PAs offer consistency in tissue handling/grossing, leading to a reduced need for specimen reprocessing or the need for additional section submission; this equates to a decrease in histology workload. A certified PA is also capable of adding stability to the AP lab, as certified PAs are trained in management, so they can also be used as supervisors of the pathology staff.

Without a doubt, certified pathologists' assistants are the cost effective and consistent way to provide quality patient care in the pathology laboratory.

Certification means that the individual has passed a national exam, similar to a Board exam, which tests the person’s knowledge on normal and abnormal gross examination, microscopy, and autopsy scenarios. To be exam eligible, the individual had to graduate from one of the NAACLS accredited training programs (link).

Our national certification is provided by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The required Certification Maintenance is 45 CEUs over three years. These credits can be from any approved medical education provider, such as PACE, ASCP, AMA, etc., but must include at least one safety CEU and 20 anatomic pathology CEUs.

The focus of most PAs is gross pathology. However, the normal duties also include autopsy, medical photography, and frozen section.

Other duties that are seen in PA jobs are:

  • CPT Coding
  • Supervisor/Manager functions
  • Educators (Resident training and/or hospital staff)
  • Tissue Banking
  • LIS/Informatics
  • Research
  • Immediate Assessments
  • Tissue and cytologic slide review (similar to a Cytotech) with a pathologist's sign-off
  • Budget Planning
  • Laboratory Redesign
  • And more!

The grossing volume number is very dependent on your hospital location, specimen mix, and other duties required of a PA. For example, you cannot expect a PA functioning as a manager to gross the same amount as a non-manager PA.

Here is an approximate average volume of a PA doing only grossing with an average specimen mix.

40% Low Complexity Tissue specimens that do not require cutting – biopsy specimens
40% Moderate Complexity Specimens requiring cutting – small specimens, like appendix or gallbladder, to non-malignant resections, like a uterus
20% High Complexity Any complicated resection – some benign, but majority malignant cases
 **No Autopsy and 4 or less frozen sections/day
Total Volume based on this mix: 12,000 to 15,000 specimens/year (not accessions)*

*Based on current survey data from AAPA members and practicing PAs.  An IRB approved study is being conducted.

There is no change in how your current pathology services are billed.

This salary range is for a PA doing the typical base work, like grossing and autopsy. Adding other duties, such as management, will require additional salary requirements. It is also based heavily on location due to factors like cost of living. However, here are the current averages:

New Graduate (certification eligible, not yet obtained) $75,000 - $78,000
New Graduate (certification obtained) $75,000 - $85,000
2 – 5 years’ experience $80,000 - $90,000
5 – 10 years’ experience $85,000 - $100,000
10+ years’ experience $95,000 - $110,000+

In addition to the standard employee benefits, such as medical and retirement, other standard benefits to consider are:

  • Educational needs (financial and time off) for certification maintenance
  • Membership dues to associations and societies
  • Vacation time/PTO range of 4 – 6 weeks
  • Liability insurance coverage
  • Office space

PA may also look for:

  • Access to multidisciplinary conferences, such as tumor board or grand rounds
  • Parking
  • Hospital Allied Health Provider Credentialing
  • Physician extender benefits, such as access to lounges

The best place to post a PA Job is right here, with the AAPA. Our Job Hotline is accessible 24-7 and available in all browser platforms! It is the most effective way to reach the maximum number of PAs, from new graduates to experienced individuals. Our membership only includes PAs, not histotechnologists or cytotechnologists.

Submit your ad today.

AAPA Inspection Readiness Kit

The AAPA offers an Inspection Readiness packet for purchase that includes provisions from the Anatomic Pathology and Laboratory General Accreditation Checklists of the College of American Pathologists that have been licensed by the AAPA. This packet addresses those Accreditation Checklist items directly related to pathologists’ assistants.

Learn more and register here.

Job Hotline Ads

The most effective way to announce a job opening for a pathologists’ assistant is through the AAPA Job Hotline. Members are able to access the AAPA Job Hotline 24 hours a day through the Members Only section of www.pathassist.org. Our membership consists of PAs and does not include other laboratory personnel such as histotechnologists or cytotechnologists.

Please submit your job ad and payment directly through our website by completing the AAPA Job Hotline form. If you have any questions or problems with your online order, please contact the AAPA Central Office.

Upon receipt, ads can take up to three (3) business days to be processed. Once your ad and payment are processed, a confirmation email will be sent to you.

Sustaining Members

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