How To Become A Pathologist In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become pathologists in Australia and how long it takes.


Are you interested in performing laboratory work and scientific detection to identify the cause of several illnesses? If yes, then consider becoming a pathologist.


Pathology is a study of disease that involves collecting and testing biological products such as urine, skin tissues, blood, and body fluids. As a pathologist, you must find and diagnose illnesses in their different stages and sources of contamination present in tissues, fluids, and other secretions in the body.


If you possess the necessary skills and interests to become a pathologist, this article will help you.


You will learn everything about becoming a pathologist in Australia, from the job profile to the educational requirements, including courses, degrees, salary, how long it takes, qualifications, and much more.



1. What Is Pathology?


Pathology is a varied medical specialty with an enormous career scope that aims at patient care, diagnosis, and treatment plans for various diseases. It is a pure and applied science that encompasses almost every facet of medicine.


Over time, pathologists and scientists have brought a series of advancements in different areas of pathology, such as immunisation, organ transplantation, genetics, forensics, safe blood transfusion, and more.



2. Who Are Pathologists?


Pathologists are medical doctors with a minimum of 13 years of training. Although they aren't directly engaged in patient care, they are an essential and valued resource in a medical team.


These highly trained physicians provide extensive services to almost all aspects of clinical medicine. They adopt the latest technologies to perform a wide range of clinical procedures to devise the best treatment to prevent disease.


Pathologists analyse tissues, secretions, and fluids of the body to identify the nature and types of ailments and infections. Based on their findings, they generated comprehensive reports that mentioned their process and conclusions, possibilities, and suggested treatments.



3. Reasons To Become A Pathologist In Australia


If pathology interests you, but you are unsure whether to make a career in this medical specialty, here are a few convincing reasons that can help you make a decision.


  • Pathologists play a critical role in providing optimum care to the patient. They hold expertise in working with various lab test utilisation procedures and high-end digital imaging methods to arrive at the most suitable clinical decision.

  • Pathology is a fast-paced and varied industry that uses innovative laboratory techniques and medical procedures to devise the treatment.

  • Pathologists are always in demand. Strong career growth and employment opportunities make the profession lucrative. The field prepares you to work in various healthcare settings, including research laboratories, emergency clinics, hospitals, medical schools, and universities.

  • It is one such career path that a physically disabled person can also pursue.

  • This profession isn't gender-biased. Both males and females enjoy equal opportunities to work and excel in their careers.



4. What Are The Duties Of A Pathologist In Australia?


Pathologists conduct studies in laboratories to determine the following:


  • The reason behind the occurrence of an ailment/ infection

  • The type of damage in the cells and tissues

  • Carry out other clinical research to arrive at a diagnosis


They strive hard to find the best treatment for fighting against infections, viruses, and other life-threatening conditions.


If you want to make a career in pathology, then you need to know the pathologist duties in Australia:


  • Inspect blood test reports to identify any irregularity in blood cells

  • Explain test reports to doctors for any requirement for further medical evaluation

  • Study biopsies and smear tests to find the presence of severe ailments like cancer and health conditions 

  • Conduct medical trials for the development of effective vaccines to treat contagious ailments

  • Conduct experiments and research to devise new medical tests and treatment methodologies

  • Supervise laboratory staff, technical officers, and technicians to ensure precise test reports and results

  • Analyse the type, cause, growth, and medical administration of an ailment

  • Prepare tissue sections from diagnostic cases and surgical and post-mortem examinations.

  • Inspect bodily secretions and fluids to detect the presence of chemicals and microbiological organisms that can contribute to a disease 

  • Inspect tissues with the help of scientific tools and techniques to determine the type, cause, and development of disease

  • Post-mortem investigation and diagnosis to detect the presence of disease/health condition/external factor such as poison or drugs in a deceased. This information also helps them learn about the genetic progression of ailments to assist researchers in formulating future treatments. 

  • Generate test reports and attend meetings with primary care physicians, nurses, surgeons, medical practitioners, and other healthcare staff to devise the most appropriate treatment plan



5. Desired Skills And Attributes To Become A Pathologist In Australia


To become a successful Pathologist, you must have the following qualities ingrained in you:


  • Meticulous 

  • Trustworthy

  • Attention to detail

  • Able to form accurate and precise observations

  • Good at verbal and non-verbal communication skills to effectively communicate test results and findings to medical professionals

  • An open-minded, analytical, and systematic approach to solving problems 

  • Tech-savvy to efficiently work using complex lab equipment

  • Ability to perform well under pressure 

  • Good at recognising visual patterns 

  • Desire to stay updated on existing research, techniques, and clinical systems

  • Good problem-solving skills

  • Able to exercise high ethical standards

  • Well organised

  • Leadership skills

  • Professionalism

  • Team playing skills



6. Qualifications To Become A Pathologist In Australia


Here are a few fundamental academic pre-requisites to get employed as a pathologist:


Take an undergraduate bachelor's course in any of the following disciplines:


  • Bachelor of Commerce

  • Bachelor of Arts

  • Bachelor of Science

  • Bachelor of Design

  • Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)


Become a doctor by completing a Doctor of Medicine degree at an accredited university. This qualification will make you eligible for other processes to qualify as a pathologist.



7. Steps To Become A Pathologist In Australia


Your journey to pursue your career goal becomes easy when you know pathology pathways and sequential steps.


Follow the below steps to accomplish your goal of becoming a pathologist in Australia:



Step 1: Become A Doctor


The correct course to become and work as a Pathologist is to complete a Doctor of Medicine degree at an accredited medical school.


University undergraduates and graduates will require 4 and 6 years to complete the degree.



Step 2: Enrol In A Supervised Internship


Now that you hold a doctorate, you are three steps away from becoming a qualified pathologist and working legally in Australia.


To practice pathology in Australia, you must complete a 1-year internship program. While you train, you will get trained under supervision in various areas such as emergency medicine, general surgery, and general medicine.



Step 3: Complete A Residency Program


The next step to becoming a pathologist in Australia is to complete a 1 to 3 years residency program in a hospital.


While working as a resident doctor, you will develop the necessary experience and skills to prepare you for specialist training.


Candidates will have to work in a team under the registrar's administration and several specialist consultants. After completing this step, you become an accredited doctor. 



Step 4: Undertake Specialty Training


This is the last step to becoming a qualified pathologist and providing their services in Australia.


Specialty training comprises passing an initial exam and selection procedure and completing an average of 5 years of training. Under your training, you will perform research works under the guidance and administration of an accredited pathologist.


Only candidates with completed specialty training qualify to practice as autonomous Pathologists in Australia.



8. Pathology-Relevant Certification And Courses


The certification courses below will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to work in pathology.



Certificates in Pathology


If you want to know how to become a pathologist in NSW, consider doing a certification course in pathology collection, laboratory techniques, and pathology assistance.





Diploma Courses in Pathology


A diploma course in pathology is a great way to progress in your career.




Vocational Training (5 Years)


Students can also consider completing a 5-year training at Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.


The training involves teaching concepts related to different pathology disciplines. Some are hematology, anatomical, clinical, forensic, microbiology, general, genetic, immunopathology, and chemical.



Bachelor Courses




Certificate III in Pathology Collection


At PathWest Laboratory Medicine and TAFE QLD



9. What Jobs Involve Pathology?


Pathology is a vast and diverse field. A qualified pathologist can start their career as a pathologist in a variety of areas, work, and healthcare settings such as:



A qualified and experienced pathologist can specialise in ten significant areas: anatomical pathology, oral pathology (in dentistry), clinical pathology, forensic pathology, immunopathology, hematology, microbiology, chemical pathology, genetic pathology, and general falling.


Based on your area of specialisation, you can work in any of the below areas:


  • Anatomic Pathologist

  • Pediatric Pathologist

  • Cytopathologist

  • Clinical Pathologist

  • Histopathologist

  • Chemical Pathologist

  • Hematopathologist

  • Molecular Genetic Pathologist

  • Virologist

  • Microbiologist

  • Forensic Pathologist

  • Neuropathologist

  • Dermatopathologist

  • Medical Technologist


Besides working as a specialised pathologist in the above areas, a pathologist can also train in general pathology, where he can provide a blend of disciplines.


TAFE NSW is among the best places to study laboratory science. Visit the site to learn more about its courses.



10. Working Conditions For A Pathologist In Australia


Pathology professionals lead the medical science and healthcare research sector. Most of the time, their work involves taking good care of their patients. A pathologist has to follow stringent hygiene practices mandatorily.



Team Members


As a pathologist, you will work in association with doctorsnurses, pathologists, and medical practitioners in a clinical setting.





Your workplace can range from hospitals and community health institutes to research centres and the public or private industry.



Work Hours


Pathologists usually have comfortable working conditions but may need to work overtime to deal with a patient suffering from a disturbing health condition or severe infection/illness.


A pathologist may need to work for prolonged and irregular hours in emergencies. This may even have to work at night, on weekends, or 24*7 on call.



11. How Much Do Pathologists Earn In Australia?


The pathologist's salary in Australia depends on the skills, level of experience, qualification, and area of employment.


The average pathologist's salary in Australia is around $104,014. An entry-level pathologist earns approx. $50 K, and an experienced pathologist (with 5 to 9 years of experience) makes $297 K in a year.



12. Conclusion


Pathology is unquestionably a continuously evolving field of medical science. Working in the high-pressure environment of a pathology lab can be an exciting experience.


Though the road to becoming a qualified pathologist is lengthy, the umpteen employment opportunities and better earnings prospects it offers make it immensely rewarding and fulfilling.



13. FAQs On Becoming A Pathologist In Australia



How Long Does It Take To Become A Pathologist In Australia?


To make a rewarding career in pathology, you must spend several years getting education and training.


To become a pathologist, you must become a doctor, get a minimum of 5 years of supervised training in an accredited pathology lab, and pass several assessments.


Becoming a qualified pathologist in Australia will take anywhere between 10 to 13 years.



Where Will I Get Employed as A Pathologist In Australia?


Having qualified as a pathologist, you can work in a diverse range of government-driven and privately-run establishments. These include private pathology practices, public health laboratories, and hospital laboratories.


You can find general pathologists in large country towns, non-metropolitan centres, and community hospitals.


The pathology profession allows you to set up your private practice or in association with a team of qualified pathologists.



How To Become A Pathologist Assistant In Australia?


Pathology assistant is one of the career options that you can pursue once you get qualified in pathology.


A Pathology Assistant (PA) is a highly trained professional who is an expert in examining surgical specimens and performing medicolegal, forensic, and autopsies. 


To work as a PA, you must complete a bachelor's degree in life sciences and a graduate-level pathology assistant program.


Some Australian employers look for candidates with professional certification, work experience, and the necessary qualifications.


Getting certified via the American Society for Clinical Pathology as a Pathologists' Assistant will boost your employability.


Only candidates with a bachelor's degree and who have completed an accredited PA program in 5 years before applying for certification can sit for the national certification exam.



How To Become a Forensic Pathologist In Australia?


Before we talk about the pathway to becoming a Forensic Pathologist, let us understand the job profile.


They are a registered clinical psychologist specialising in examining people who die unpredictably or as a result of a violent attack. Agencies hire Forensic pathologists to determine the cause and nature of death.


Follow these steps if you are interested in making a career as a forensic pathologist:




  • Step 2: Get a bachelor's degree in psychology (4-5 years)


  • Step 3: Complete a two years Master's degree or five years of doctoral degrees, such as a Doctor of Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy from an accredited institution. 


You qualify for certification and licensing as a forensic pathologist upon completing the degree.



  • Step 5: After you register, complete a residency program followed by a 1- year forensic pathology fellowship program that focuses solely on forensic pathology. After completing the fellowship, you can work as a forensic pathologist.



How To Become A Pathology Collector In Australia?


A pathology collector is a qualified professional responsible for collecting blood samples that help diagnose ailments and other issues.


Besides collection work, they also store and prepare the collected samples to transport them to pathology laboratories for further processing.


This ideal career is for organised people with great people skills and multi-tasking abilities.



Step 1: Graduate from high school in subjects such as maths, biology, and English


Step 2: Complete the following qualification from an approved academic institution:


  • Certificate III in Pathology Collection

  • Diploma of Laboratory Technician


Step 3Get a full driver's license.


Step 4: Complete a first aid certification at any of the following links:


  • St John

  • Australia-Wide First Aid

  • Red Cross


Step 5: Get relevant industrial exposure for a specified number of hours, where you will work under the supervision of senior pathologists.



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