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|What is a PA?|
What is a Pathologists' Assistant?
A pathologists’ assistant is a highly trained allied health professional.
A pathologists’ assistant (PA) provides various services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist. PAs interact with pathologists in a manner similar to physician 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. PAs are key components to helping make a pathologic diagnosis, but it is the sole province of the pathologist to render a diagnosis.
The majority of pathologists’ assistants are responsible for the gross examination and dissection of anatomic pathology specimens and the performance of postmortem examinations. PAs prepare tissue for numerous pathological tests including frozen section, flow cytometry and immunohistochemical staining. PAs may photograph gross and microscopic specimens, help prepare educational conferences and provide training to pathology personnel, including pathology residents. The duties of a pathologists’ assistant are not always limited to anatomic and surgical pathology; many PAs fill administrative, instructional and supervisory roles as well. PAs are a crucial extension of the pathologist in the healthcare setting, working as a liaison to other departments and laboratories to ensure quality healthcare.
Pathologists’ assistants perform in a wide scope of clinical practices. Although the majority of pathologists’ assistants work in academic and community hospitals, PAs can also be employed in other areas such as private pathology laboratories, forensic pathology laboratories and morgues, reference laboratories, government healthcare systems, and medical teaching facilities. Some PAs are even self-employed business owners providing their pathology expertise via long- and short-term contract.
Scope of Practice for Pathologists' Assistants
Refer to Article III, Section B of the AAPA Bylaws