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What is a Pathologist?

A pathologist helps care for patients every day by providing your doctor the information needed to ensure appropriate patient care. A pathologist is a physician who studies body fluids and tissues, helps your primary care doctor make a diagnosis about your health or any medical problems you have, and uses laboratory tests to monitor the health of patients with chronic conditions. A pathologist will examine cells or a tissue biopsy to determine if it is benign or if you have cancer, and shares that information with your doctor.

A pathologist is a medical doctor who wears four different hats: a surgical pathologist, a cytopathologist, a clinical pathologist, and one who conducts autopsies. As a specialized medical doctor, a pathologist examines cells (cytology), examines body tissues (surgical pathology), examines bodies (autopsies), and is responsible for performing laboratory tests (clinical pathology). A pathologist helps other physicians reach diagnoses and is an important member of the treatment team. A pathologist is known as a physicians’ physician, based on his/her vital role in patient treatment and physician education.

Pathologist have completed medical school and must have at least four years of advanced medical training in a residency program to be eligible to take board certification examinations. Pathologists are board-certified through the American Board of Pathology. The five pathologists at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa are all board-certified.