The largest numbers of pathologists are found in community hospital practices, where they play important roles in clinical decision making and continuing medical education of physicians throughout the hospital staff. As laboratory director, the pathologist also has responsibilities for quality improvement, risk management, and development of comprehensive information systems. In addition, hospital pathologists often operate laboratories that serve the office practices of their community's physicians. With the continuing growth of ambulatory care, pathologists may also practice in non-hospital settings such as private or group practice, clinics, and other health care facilities. Independent laboratories have assumed an increasing role as practice sites for pathologists. Many of these laboratories are part of major national medical networks; others are regional or local.
Although 75 percent of pathologists practice in the community hospital setting, many other options exist. Medical schools attract the second largest group of pathologists - currently over 3,000 individuals, interested in basic or applied research, which is often combined with extensive teaching opportunities, and diagnostic responsibilities in university hospitals. Because of their broad medical perspective, pathologists often fill leadership roles within medical schools, national professional societies, and research organizations.
Yet other positions for pathologists are available in the military and in government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration. Forensic pathologists typically work in municipal, state, and federal agencies, where they investigate unexplained and unnatural deaths. In addition, pathologists often provide medical direction in research institutes and with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The best available data suggest a strong continuing need for pathologists in all sectors for the future.
Dr. Stanley Cohen, Professor & Chair of the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is a world renowned researcher in immunology and teacher.