Established in 1989, the Wayne State University Master of Science in Pathologists' Assistant (PAA) program is one of 13 programs in the United States and Canada that trains students in the highly specialized field of anatomic pathology.

The Pathologists' Assistant program at Wayne State University is a two-year, full-time professional program that accepts 12-14 students per year. The first year of the program is fully didactic with comprehensive coursework in Anatomy, Pathology, Histotechnology, among other subjects and extensive laboratory exposure in grossing methodology, histochemistry and autopsy techniques. The second year comprises clinical rotations in several different settings in the greater Detroit area as well as out-of-state.

What is a Pathologists' Assistant?

A Pathologists' Assistant (PA) is a health care professional trained to practice as a physician extender in the surgical and forensic pathology laboratory setting where, under the direction and supervision of a pathologist, the PA (or Path Assistant) ensures quality health care delivery. 

The Pathologist' Assistant practices in a wide scope of clinical settings and is trained to:

  • provide accurate gross examinations and dissections of human anatomic pathology specimens
  • perform postmortem examinations
  • prepare tissues for tumor triage and other pathologic tests
  • train pathology personnel, medical students and pathology residents
  • instruct in anatomy, physiology, gross pathology, gross dissection skills and autopsy techniques
  • photograph surgical and forensic specimens
  • assist in, perform and conduct research

Where does a Pathologists' Assistant Practice?

The majority of Pathologists' Assistants work in academic (medical school/university) and community hospitals, but many are also employed in private pathology laboratories, forensic pathology laboratory and morgues, reference laboratories, government health care systems, and medical teaching facilities.

What is the Job Outlook for the Pathologists' Assistant Profession?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), the career outlook for those in a physician extender capacity, such as pathologists' assistant, is strong with job growth of 37% expected from 2016 to 2026. This growth is much faster than the average (7%) predicted for all positions.

The salary for pathologists' assistants varies depending on the area of the country one practices. According to Payscale.com, the average base annual salary for pathologists' assistant in the U.S. for 2018 was $83,645 per year excluding benefits, bonuses, and retirement contributions. As with any career, different factors can go into pay including work experience, cost of living in the area, certifications, and specific contract negotiations.