Pathologists' Assistant — M.H.S.

Program director
Cheryl Germain

Clinical Coordinator
Michael Weitzeil

Medical director
Jeremy Deisch

Loma Linda University offers a professional course of study leading to the M.H.S. degree in pathologists’ assistant.  This degree prepares students for a career as mid-level health-care professionals in hospital pathology laboratories, private laboratories, universities, and industry.

Program objectives

Upon completion of the program, the pathologists’ assistant (PA) graduate will be qualified to (under the supervision of a pathologist):

Surgical pathology

  1. Ensure correct specimen identification and submission techniques prior to processing.
  2. Supervise specimen accessioning and laboratory information systems for correct patient and specimen correlation.
  3. Recognize and identify pathology in surgical specimens, correlating the correct technique for dissection and evaluation for tissue submission.
  4. Order special testing on tissues as necessary to specimen management, including radiology, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, cytogenetics, immunofluorescence, microbiology, etc.
  5. Perform stat frozen section and special testing procedures, such as kidney biopsy evaluation, intraoperatively.
  6. Correlate the full patient history and treatment with pathologic findings for professional presentation.
  7. Manage and train other health-care professionals such as residents, medical students, and PA students in surgical pathology.
  8. Manage the surgical pathology suite while acting as liaison to nursing, surgery, and other hospital services.

Autopsy pathology

  1. Ensure correct procedural permissions and patient identification.
  2. Perform a full external examination for hospital and forensic autopsy cases.
  3. Conduct a complete evisceration utilizing various techniques as required by permissions and patient history, ordering and variously performing special testing as necessary.
  4. Formulate a preliminary anatomic diagnosis within 24 hours of the procedure.
  5. Compile a complete autopsy report for submission to the pathologist.
  6. Review and report pathologic findings to pathologists and other pertinent clinical practitioners.
  7. Act as liaison to patient families and outsourced services for the department.
  8. Train other health-care professionals—including residents, medical students, nurses, and PAs—in autopsy technique and management.
  9. Develop and maintain procedural and training manuals for the autopsy service.
  10.  Manage the autopsy service and staff and act as liaison to other hospital departments and outsourced services.


  1. Teach at the university level.
  2. Work in research and/or industry (pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical equipment and devices, etc.).

Program outcomes

In addition to the stated institutional learning outcomes, the M.H.S. degree in pathologists’ assistant student is expected to meet the following program learning outcomes:

  1. Demonstrate basic science knowledge in pathology and clinical laboratory sciences.
  2. Demonstrate competence, knowledge, and clinical skills in anatomic pathology.
  3. Demonstrate critical-thinking skills in pathology and clinical laboratory sciences.

Loma Linda University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; telephone: 510/748-9001; fax: 510/748-9797; website:  <>.

Pathologists’ Assistant Program accreditation

In April 2017, Loma Linda University School of Medicine's Pathologists' Assistant Program was granted "Serious Applicant" status by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). This designation makes the program’s graduates eligible to take the national certification examination administered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP). In the fall of 2017, NAACLS  conducted a site visit of the program; the review had no concerns or citations and was sent forward for review by the NAACLS RCAP and board.  Full accreditation is expected to be achieved by early 2018.

NAACLS is the premier accreditation for pathologists’ assistant programs. Strict standards required for this accreditation ensure a quality education and preparation for the certification examination and competence in the field as a pathologists’ assistant. Loma Linda University School of Medicine's Pathologists’ Assistant Program will adhere to required standards to produce high-quality and competent pathologists’ assistants. For further information, contact the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 5600 North River Road, Suite 720, Rosemont, IL 60018-5119; 847/939-3597 or 773/714-8880; website: <>.

The application period for the Class of 2020 (beginning in September, 2018)  is November 1, 2017-March 31, 2018.  Dates are strict for acceptance of application materials and only select applicants will be invited for an individual interview (no group interviews). This class will include 18 students. The accepted students will be notified by May 15 to begin the Autumn, 2018 quarter.

In addition to Loma Linda University requirements, the applicant must all fulfill the following requirements:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. 
  2.  A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 or higher.
  3.  All prerequisite courses must be completed at an accredited college or university in the United States prior to admission. Transcripts from international institutions are not accepted. 
    1. Human anatomy and physiology with laboratory (complete sequence), 12 quarter units/ 8 semester units
    2. General chemistry with laboratory (complete sequence), 12 quarter units/ 8 semester units
    3. Organic chemistry (complete sequence), 12 quarter units/ 8 semester units
    4. Microbiology with laboratory, 4 credits
    5. College algebra or higher, 3 credits
    6. English composition (complete sequence)
    7. Strongly recommended:  medical terminology and conversational Spanish
  4.  Three letters of recommendation.  Suggestions:
    1. A laboratory professional (clinical or research) with whom you’ve worked (no relatives or friends)
    2. An undergraduate professor
    3. A work supervisor who can speak to your work ethic and dependability

These are suggestions, but family members or friends are NOT acceptable as recommendations. DO NOT use the Pathologists’ Assistant with whom you’ve shadowed for a recommendation. 


  • Speak with the person you are asking for the recommendation and be sure they know you well, understand the program to which you’re applying and why, make sure they can speak to your abilities, not just that you are a nice person.
  • Be sure the person supplying the recommendation understands that NO PAPER RECOMMENDATIONS ARE ACCEPTED!  All recommendations must follow the electronic procedure.  If the recommendation does not have an e-mail account, help them to create a free e-mail account on yahoo or google.

 Proof of shadowing:

  • During the interview the student will be asked to relate what a Pathologists’ Assistant does during a normal working day.  While there is no required number of hours to shadow, the student must be interactive, asking questions to learn the duties of a PA (ASCP).  Contact information of the PA with whom you shadowed must be provided.
  • We do not require GRE or any other pre-graduate school standardized testing.
  • NOTE: There are no transfers of credit into the Pathologists’ Assistant program.  All courses in the curriculum must be completed at Loma Linda University.

The Pathologist’s Assistant program follows the LLU Nondiscrimination Policy.

First Year
Autumn QuarterUnits
ANAT 544Human Embryology Lecture2
IBGS 501Biomedical Communication and Integrity2
PATH 501Anatomy and Pathology I4
PATH 521Anatomical Techniques I3
RELE 505Clinical Ethics3
Winter Quarter
AHCJ 538Histology3
AHCJ 542Pathology I4
AHCJ 515Curriculum Development in Higher Education3
PATH 502Anatomy and Pathology II4
PATH 522Anatomical Techniques II3
Spring Quarter
AHCJ 543Pathology II3
PATH 524Clinical Microbiology for Pathologists' Assistants3
PATH 551Disease Mechanisms I3
PATH 581Basic Pathologic Microanatomy2
PHSL 588Pathophysiology4
Summer Quarter
PATH 552Disease Mechanisms II3
PATH 564Biomedical Photography1
PATH 582Advanced Microanatomy2
PATH 598Clinical Laboratory Management2
PATH 644Clinical Pathology Seminar2
Second Year
Autumn Quarter
PATH 741Pathology Review I2
PATH 761Pathologists' Assistant Practicum I9
Winter Quarter
PATH 742Pathology Review II2
PATH 762Pathologists' Assistant Practicum II9
Spring Quarter
PATH 743Pathology Review III2
PATH 763Pathologists' Assistant Practicum III9
Summer Quarter
PATH 744Pathology Review IV2
PATH 764Pathologists' Assistant Practicum IV9
 Total Units: 100

Multiple clinical rotations are assigned by the Program Director to ensure a varied and comprehensive clinical experience for each student. Rotations will include surgical pathology in academic and community settings, private laboratories, pediatric pathology, medical examiners offices and hospital autopsy services.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Each student is required to complete 50 hours of Community Service by July of the second year of the program. The experience is documented using the "Experience Transcripts" through the University Records office.  The type of service is the decision of the student; multiple opportunities are available through the Pathologists' Assistant program, the School of Medicine and the University.
  • Will Alexander Lecture Series:  Attendance at the Will Alexander Wholeness Series is mandatory in PGY1.  The series extends from Fall to Spring, once a month, Wednesday evenings for 1 hour.  The lecture series includes topics on wholeness, personal/professional development, care of creation, diversity, and service. 

Normal time to complete the program

2 years (24 months) — full-time enrollment required