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Specialist Pathologist

Pathologists are specialists at identifying the cause of diseases and how they progress and spread. They do this by examining and studying changes in bodily tissue, blood and other body fluids (which are done through tests) and are experts at analysing the results. 

As a pathologist, you could also work in a large team to help diagnose patients. 

There are two primary areas in the field of pathology:

  • Anatomical pathology which involves examining tissue specimens taken from the body for  diagnostic purposes, often during surgery.  These pathologists play an important role in getting an accurate diagnosis for patients. For example, examining the tissue to determine if cancer cells are present.
  • Clinical Pathologists which conduct and oversee laboratory tests on body fluids like blood, urine or saliva etc. They perform tests to identify the presence of organisms like parasites, bacteria or viruses to identify the source of diseases. Some pathologists perform autopsies to determine the nature and extent of the disease which caused the death of a person.

How to be a Specialist Pathologist in South Africa

Get the Required Qualifications

To become a specialist pathologist in South Africa, you will need the following qualifications:

Demonstrate Competence in the Required Subjects

Entry requirements may differ per institution, but you will generally be expected to show competency in the following subjects:

Accumulate Years of Relevant Study and Experience

Specialist Pathologists in South Africa typically study for about 10-11 years. The first 6 years are spent in theoretical training to obtain a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) and 4-5 years are spent in post-graduate studies to obtain a Master of Medicine in Pathology degree.

In addition to the theoretical training and post-graduate studies, specialist surgeons also typically spend 1 year in student internship and 1 year in community service.

Find Relevant Employment Opportunities

Specialist Pathologists in South Africa have many opportunities for employment and often work in:

  • State hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Private practice

Find More Information from Relevant Regulatory Bodies

To find more information about specialists in emergency medicine, contact the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA).


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