How to become a pathologist with top hospitals in India

Are you looking for a career in medicine as a clinical pathologist? Need to know how to start a pathology lab? This article provides complete information on the different specializations in pathology and a career guide on starting a career as a pathologist. You will also get a general idea on the approximate costs of setting up your own path lab.

Pathology is a major clinical discipline in the medical sector. The test results from a pathology lab are what help the physician to diagnose an ailment or abnormality and subsequently determine medical treatment and therapy.

What are pathology investigations?

A pathology investigation does not just involve testing blood or a body fluid such as urine or saliva. It also includes testing tissues and organs. There are a number of specific fields in pathology, including:
  1. Hematology: This is the investigation of diseases of blood cells. The cause of anemia or the diagnosis of leukemia can be done through a clinical hematology test.

  2. Histopathology: This involves tests done on a tissue sample (which is taken through a biopsy procedure) to diagnose a disease. For example, a dental Surgeon having suspicion of a pre-cancerous stage will do a biopsy and send the tissue of, say, a cheek sample, to the pathology lab for testing. The subsequent report of the test will reveal whether or not it is cancer in situ.

  3. Immunology: A physician may ask for an immunology test to diagnose an allergy or autoimmune disorder.

  4. Cytology: While a histopathologist will test a tissue as a whole, a cytologist will test individual cells. An inflamed site or a site of a cancerous lesion can be diagnosed through a cytology path test.

  5. Medical microbiology: A pathology test done in this field is to check for infections (such as viral or bacterial).

  6. Forensic pathology: This department of pathology combines performing an autopsy and studying tissue samples to establish the reason for a death. With requisite certification & training, a Forensic Pathologist can also become the Medical Examiner for a government organization.

  7. Molecular pathology: Lab tests in this field are to study DNA and RNA molecules to determine a genetic defect or disease.

  8. Clinical Chemistry: A test for cholesterol or glucose levels are some of the examples of tests done in this field. The test on the sugar level of a diabetic patient can help to determine & monitor the dosage of insulin required.

What skills are required of a pathologist?

You must be extremely accurate in your work to be able to deliver precise test results and present & interpret data in an organized manner. Total focus and concentration are a must, with a sharp eye on the tiniest detail. Muddling up test results is just not acceptable!

Continuous hours of performing tests require you be to be physically fit as well. You especially need to take care of your neck and eyes if spending endless hours peering down a microscope.

In today's world of advancing technologies, you need to upgrade your computer skills with knowledge of how to use medical software which incorporates data collection tools and maintaining accounts. Besides, you need to have good written and oral communication skills.

Educational background requirements

To become a pathologist, first and foremost you must have an MBBS degree. Then you need to pursue an M.D. degree in Pathology which is of 3 years' duration. An option is to do a two-year Diploma program instead of a degree, either in Pathology or in Clinical Pathology or even in Bacteriology.

Getting experience

With the requisite academic qualification, you can look for a job in a government / private hospital, a private clinic, a blood bank, a path lab, etc. There may even be part-time opportunities for you in a government operated public clinic.

Job opportunities and earnings

A decision to have a lucrative career as a pathologist is a good one, what with an increase in the number of screening tests done to diagnose and prevent a disease or detect an infection. Pathology tests are done, too, during the medical exam screening process of candidates for a job and even for those applying for medical insurance. So there is no dearth in job scope for a pathologist.

Once you have the requisite educational qualification, you should immediately check out work opportunities with reputed hospitals, such as Apollo, AIIMS, Wockhardt, Fortis, Hinduja, etc.

In terms of salary, a full-time post for a highly qualified pathologist in a hospital can fetch you upwards of Rs.25k monthly while labs which do genetic-based tests can get you higher pay. There are also career opportunities for Pathologists with the armed forces and with government health organizations.

You also have the option to teach medical students through clinical training programs and conduct educational workshops for physicians.

How to set up your own pathology lab

You may have an ambition to set up your own pathology lab rather than working at a hospital or a private lab. Keep in mind that this is not a cakewalk!

First and foremost you need the necessary license to operate a pathology lab, submitting documents to the official authority in your locality to support that you have completed a recognized M.D. (Pathology) degree/diploma program. Accreditation by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is also important.

Next, sound finances are naturally essential, as finding commercial space within your budget may be a little tough. Then there are finances required for equipment, especially refrigerated units, computers with the requisite software, etc. Don't forget too, that you need qualified and well-trained personnel, especially pathology technicians, on your staff rolls and you will have to pay a good salary to get them on board.

A basic set up can cost Rs.15lakh to Rs.20lakh, with more complex automated testing equipment increasing the cost to upwards of Rs.80lakh.

Institutes in India offering MD Pathology program

Given below is a list of some of the institutes offering M.D. (Pathology) courses. It is important to find out if both the course and the institute is a recognized one. A medical college needs to be recognized by the Medical Council of India (MCI), the official body which establishes the standards of medical education in India. Many institutes offering medical courses, including pathology, are attached to hospitals, which is a huge advantage as it allows students to get hands-on experience on a working environment in health care services.

Note that in each of the institutes listed below there will be a limited number of seats, some as few as two or three only for this course.
  1. Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi: This institute is for women undergraduate students. The course is affiliated to University of Delhi.

  2. All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi
    Website: AIIMS Delhi

  3. Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research, Kolkata – 10 seats
    Website: IPGMER Kolkata

  4. Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute
    Website: BMCRI

  5. B.J.Medical College, Gujarat – 20 seats
    Website: BJMC Ahmedabad

  6. Chennai Medical College Hospital & Research Centre – 2 seats
    Website: CMCHRC

  7. Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry: This institute has two programs - MD (Pathology) – 6 seats; M.Sc(MLT) Cytopathology
    Website: JIPMER Puducherry

  8. Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh – 3 seats
    Website: GMCH Chandigarh

  9. T.N.Medical College & B. Y. L. Nair Charitable Hospital, Mumbai – 11 seats
    Website: TNMCNair Mumbai

  10. Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai – 9 seats
    Website: TMC Mumbai

  11. Armed Forces Medical College Pune
    Website: AFMC Pune

  12. Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad

More institutes: A comprehensive list of colleges offering M.D.(Pathology) in India .

It is hoped that this article is informative to those aspiring for a career in Pathology in India.

Article by Vandana
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.

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Author: Natarajan30 Nov 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 8

Nice article that gives an insight into the working as a pathologist in India. Many doctors, especially women, choose pathology as it is relatively a 9-5 job scenario and gives time for family, especially if the spouse is a busy clinician (physician,surgeon etc).

If one cannot get into the MD pathology, they can try DNB - Diplomate of National Board - for which the course duration is the same 3 years and job opportunities are the same.

As we see specialists in clinical practice, we do see specialists in pathology itself. For instance Neuropathology, Oncopathology etc. After MD pathology, doctors pursue a one year fellowship/certificate program in a reputed institute that has a high work load in a particular organ system or disease classification like Neuropathology in premier Neurosciences institutes (NIMHANS Bangalore), oncopathoogy in national cancer institutes (KIDWAI, Banglaore, Tata Memorial Hosptial, Mumbai).

Opening one's own stand-alone pathology lab is risky and one may not break even unless it's the first in that place with no competitors. Many private ventures succeed when the group pathology, radiology (CT,MRI) and out-patient services are all under a single roof.

There is a relatively new concept of Tele-pathology that takes pathology to distant areas where it's not feasible or cost-effective for a pathologist to be present everyday. Some aspects of pathology are suited for this and a few reputed hospitals offer this and one can be part of this unique work-force.

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