Pioneering an emerging new healthcare profession in Canada


The Master of Clinical Sciences (Pathologists’ Assistant) program at Western University was the first of its kind to be accredited in Canada.  Pathologists’ assistants (PAs) are highly trained health professionals who assume major responsibility for the initial examination and dissection of all surgically removed tissues as well as the dissection of bodies during postmortem examinations.  Their assessment of surgical specimens plays an important role in the diagnosis and management of cancer patients.  We have a highly competitive program, with over 100 applicants for only 6 seats.  Last spring, top applicants came from across Canada, as well as from the USA and Europe to interview for the program.  Offers of admission were granted to and accepted by the top 6 candidates.  The program consists of 22 months of study, leading to a graduate degree.  In their first year, students complete coursework in human anatomy, histology, pathology, infectious diseases, and forensic sciences.  The remainder of the program consists of practicum rotations in pathology laboratories at London Health Sciences Centre, as well as major Toronto facilities (Mt. Sinai Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children, and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Services) and community hospitals.  Students also complete a research project and have presented at local, national, and international meetings.  To date, all graduates seeking employment as PAs have found jobs prior to their convocation; many have had multiple job offers.  Graduates have employed their skills across Canada and the USA where their careers have included roles in surgical pathology, forensic pathology, research, and laboratory administration.  We recently achieved re-accreditation by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences for a seven-year period until 2022.  Our graduates play a critical role in healthcare and are the pioneers of this emerging new profession in Canada.