What is pathology?

But… don’t pathologists just look at dead people…?

…Not quite.

I’m well aware that here, at STP Perspectives, we bang on about “healthcare scientists” a lot. That’s because we want our readers to be as passionate about it as we are! However, this week, as it is National Pathology Week, it’s only right that we bang on about pathologists. So what exactly is a pathologist and why should you care about them?

According to the Royal College of Pathologists, Pathology is:

“…the study of disease. It is the bridge between science and medicine. It underpins every aspect of patient care, from diagnostic testing and treatment advice to using cutting-edge genetic technologies and preventing disease.”

That sounds pretty important to me! Pathologists can be doctors or scientists, but one thing they have in common is that they are experts in their field. The royal college of Pathologists groups pathology careers into themes; these are:

  • Tissue and cell
  • Blood
  • Chemistry of the body
  • Infections
  • Immunity
  • Genetics and reproduction
  • Toxins
  • Animal disease

Healthcare Science is an incredibly broad umbrella term under which pathology falls. And as you can see there is a broad range of specialisms that fall under pathology. So yes, although unfortunately sometimes pathologists will end up working with the deceased, we are very much in the business of trying to keep people alive.

The RCPath have a great 1-minute video that explains more:


I’ve also made a little infographic because (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again) who doesn’t love a lil’ infographic?

What is pathology

Author: Jes

I am a trainee clinical bioinformatician working at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. I am passionate about increasing awareness and discussion about healthcare science and particularly the routes into the field.

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