Pathologists are responsible for making 70% of all diagnoses. Histopathology is a key clinical specialty in which the pathologist provides a gold standard, diagnosis on the basis of microscopic and macroscopic examination of tissue specimens in collaboration with surgeons, physicians, radiologists and the wider multidisciplinary team. Histopathologists directly inform the clinical decision making process, drive management and therefore impact massively upon patient management and care. It is therefore imperative that histopathologists not only have a keen eye for detail and can work well alone, but can also work well as a leader of a team and must have excellent communication skills.

The specialty incorporates surgical (anatomical) pathology, cytopathology, autopsy pathology, neuropathology, perinatal & paediatric pathology and forensic pathology.

Key Skills and Personal Attributes

  • Investigative/problem solving skills
  • Able to utilise clinical, radiological and histological information
  • Excellent all-round medical and surgical knowledge
  • Sound communication skills
  • Manual dexterity, practical skills and a good eye for detail
  • Ability to work as part of a team including pathologists, biomedical scientists,surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and nurses
  • Able to work independently in a proactive and self-directed manner 

Histopathology Training in England and Wales

Histopathology is currently a run-through (ST1 to ST6) training programme and is available for entry after completion of the Foundation Programme. The ST1 entry Person Specification can be found here.

Recruitment is run nationally every December by the London Shared Services Recruitment Department. Successful applicants joining the specialty will follow the Royal College of Pathologist’s Histopathology Curriculum 2015 which sets the expected syllabus as well as required assessments and work load case numbers. All trainees undergo the ARCP process.

Year One Specialty Trainees (ST1s) enter Stage A of the programme. This is an intense year of basic training in all areas of cellular pathology and culminates in an end of year assessment (Stage A Examination). Stage B of training takes place in year 2-3 with the focus on achieving the FRCPath Part 1 Exam.

Stage C training takes place during ST3-4 whereby trainees focus on achieving the FRCPath Part 2 Exam, thereby obtaining the status of Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. Stage C allows trainees to continue with general histopathology or peruse subspecialisation in neuropathology, paediatric/perinatal pathology, cytopathology or forensic pathology. Those trainees in Stage C who wish to continue in general histopathology may opt to sit further exams in cervical cytopathology and autopsy practice if they wish to continue these into consultancy.

Stage D (ST5+) is the final stage of training before CCT during which histopathology trainees may wish to peruse special interests in particular subspecialties.