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Outside the Lab Pathologists’ assistants, Profession, Laboratory management

A Roster of Unsung Heroes

Many of the professional conferences I attend, and the organizations I interact with, have “pathology” in their titles. In fact, it’s rare to find one that doesn’t. You could therefore be forgiven for thinking that such meetings and organizations are exclusively for those who hold the title of medical doctor and have trained in a laboratory specialty.

But that isn’t the case. Two meetings I attended this year had a separate stream for medical students who had not yet chosen a specialty, and others had sessions for high school and undergraduate students to encourage their interest in medicine and life science – whatever discipline they ultimately desired. Another meeting this past summer had a stream specifically for pathologists’ assistants – and, in fact, The Pathologist’s booth at the American Society for Clinical Pathology annual meeting was set up next to one belonging to the American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants.

A recurring theme amongst the pathologists I know is the need for better public relations – advocacy, outreach, and awareness of their existence and the role pathologists play in healthcare. But what about the pathology-adjacent disciplines? What laboratory can function without assistants, technologists, technicians, managers, and administrators? What about researchers who make breakthroughs in laboratory medicine without practicing it themselves? What about the allied health professionals who help obtain, process, store, and analyze samples?

We know now, more than ever, the need to shine a bright light on the achievements of pathologists – and the field of pathology. But we should widen the beam to include those in equally vital laboratory professions; without their dedication, the field of laboratory medicine would look very different today. In a comment on my previous editorial (1), a reader suggested speaking with laboratory technicians and technologists. So that’s what I’d like to do.

What would your laboratory look like without non-pathologist laboratorians? I invite all of you – from every walk of laboratory life – to let us know. Post on social media (you can tag us at @pathologistmag) or send us an email ([email protected]). If you are one of those professionals, tell us your story; share your experiences – we’re here to make your voices heard as well.

Michael Schubert


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  1. M Schubert, “A Community of Equals”, The Pathologist, 47, 9 (2018). Available at:
About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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