Pathology is a broad specialty within medicine that is concerned with the nature and causes of diseases that affect the human body. In general, pathologists study, diagnose, monitor, and treat diseases by examining tissues, bodily fluids, and cells. Overall, pathologists work in laboratory settings since the nature of the job is all about studying diseases, and a lab is the perfect place to do so. However, hospitals and academic settings are also common workplaces, but depending on your specialty you may have other employment opportunities.
#1: Pediatric Pathology
Pediatric medicine is a specialty of medicine that focuses on treating children— more specifically from infancy through adolescence. Pediatric pathology combines the knowledge of pediatric medicine and pathology to be able to diagnose and treat diseases that occur during fetal growth, infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Pathologists specializing in pediatric pathology can find employment in children’s hospitals and other pediatric settings. They can also find work in academic and laboratory settings that are dedicated to pediatric pathology.
Neurology is a medical specialty that focuses on the entire nervous system (central, peripheral, and autonomic), as well as the muscles and blood vessels. Neuropathology combines neurology and pathology, focusing on how diseases affect the nervous system, muscles, and blood vessels. Examples of conditions neuropathologists may study include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Pathologists specializing in neuropathology can find work in neurology clinics, as well as hospitals, labs, and academic research centers.
#3: Medical Microbiology
Medical microbiology is the study of microbial agents (bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses) that cause disease, including COVID-19. Because medical microbiologists don’t typically work with patients (which is characteristic of most pathology jobs), they’re more likely to find jobs in research settings, such as laboratories and colleges and universities. They do, however, work closely with hospital infection control teams to help reduce the spread of disease.
Hematopathology is a subfield of pathology that is closely related to hematology, the subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on disorders of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. Hematopathologists study:
- Hemophilia and other bleeding/blood clotting disorders
- Leukemia and related blood/bone cancers
The nature of this work allows hematopathologists to find work in hematology centers, as well as oncology centers. Oncology is the subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on cancer, and it’s closely tied to hematology. Hematopathologists can also work in hospitals and laboratories.
#5: Forensic Pathology
Forensic science is the study of science as it relates to crimes, and forensic pathology investigates crimes that include unexpected, suspicious, and violent deaths. Pathologists specializing in forensics can find jobs as medical examiners or coroners, and they can also perform autopsies. They can also find employment in hospitals, labs, colleges and universities, private medical groups, and federal government agencies.
Dermatology is the study of disorders of the skin, nails, and hair, and dermatopathology focuses more specifically on diseases of the skin. While dermatologists treat patients directly, dermatopathologists receive and study the biopsy specimens to study and make a diagnosis. Dermatopathologists can find employment in dermatology offices, as well as in labs, hospitals, and academic settings.
#7: Chemical Pathology
Chemical pathology, also known as clinical chemistry or clinical biochemistry, studies the biochemistry of the human body as it applies to the progression of the disease. The nature of the jobs means that they’ll work closely with physicians in other specialties, specifically in internal medicine (e.g., cardiologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, etc.). Chemical pathologists usually find positions in lab settings as clinical consultants to other physicians diagnosing and treating certain diseases, but they can also find positions in academic settings and hospitals.
#8: Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine
Blood banking and transfusion medicine are concerned with the maintenance of blood supply, blood utilization, and blood donor/patient-recipient safety. Pathologists specializing in this area direct the safe usage of blood components (red and white blood cells, platelets, plasma constituents, marrow, and stem cells). As the name suggests, these types of pathologists can find work in blood banks, They can also work in labs, hospitals, academic settings, pediatric settings, and in hematology and oncology centers, working alongside hematologists and oncologists.
Overall, pathologists are most likely to be employed in laboratory settings, hospitals, and academic settings. However, those who further specialize in other areas have more employment opportunities. So even if you’re already a pathologist, it’s a good idea to look into a specialty area to open the doors to more employment opportunities.