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Pathologist Licensure and Certification

As a pathologist, you will be licensed and board certified. You earn your medical license by graduating from an accredited program and passing all steps of the USMLE. You begin taking steps as a medical student and wrap up the process during your residency. States typically have additional requirements like background checks and laws of jurisprudence (medical law and ethics).

Become a Pathologist

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Certification is not a legal requirement to practice medicine, but it is expected of specialists. The certification process is tied to the completion of your residency (and sometimes a fellowship as well). Pathologists can be board certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology in clinical or anatomical pathology. It is possible to be certified in both, but it takes a year longer.

Pathologists can also seek certification in a subspecialty. There are a number of sub specialties including chemical pathology, cytopathology, blood bank/ transfusion pathology, neuropathology, and hematology. Most sub specialties require a one year fellowship, but some require two.

In order to sit for certifying exams, you must provide evidence that you have a medical license in good standing and have completed training requirements. Generally candidates for primary pathologist certification are expected to pass examinations and become certified within five years. Evidence of continuing education will be required of candidates who fail to do so.

Certification is good for ten years. Maintenance of Certification requires that pathologists retain their professional standing, participate in continued medical education, and show evidence of successful performance evaluation. You can find downloadable candidate handbooks on the ASCP site.

If you are just starting to explore the possibility of pursuing a career in pathology, you may want to read about the pathologist career in greater depth. If you think that a career in medicine is likely in store for you, an excellent place to start is by pursuing an undergraduate degree program that is heavy in science so as to fulfill your pre-requisites for medical school when the time comes.