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How to become an Anatomical Pathology Technician

anatomical pathology technician careers

What does a Anatomical Pathology Technician do?

Anatomical pathology technologists (APTs) support pathologists during post-mortem examinations, which involve examining and dissecting the body, removing and weighing organs, and taking samples for laboratory analysis.

APTs assist pathologists by passing instruments such as scalpels, recording their findings, performing special techniques such as spinal cord removal, and weighing the organs as they are taken out. At the end of the post-mortem the body will be reconstructed, organs replaced and the body cleaned ready for release to the undertakers for burial or cremation. Technologists highly experienced in all aspects of forensic procedure may assist forensic pathologists examining murder victims.

In addition to post-mortem work, APTs are responsible for the day-to-day running of the mortuary service. Their duties include keeping accurate administrative records, receiving sudden deaths, placing the deceased into cold storage units, liaising with doctors, police, coroner's office staff and funeral directors, and providing information and support to the bereaved.

What's the working environment like working as a Anatomical Pathology Technician?

APTs work up to 40 hours a week; shifts and on-call duties may be required.

For post-mortem work APTs wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves, a theatre gown, visor and boots. APTs need to be able to cope with unpleasant conditions.

What does it take to become a Anatomical Pathology Technician?

As an anatomical pathology technologist, you should:

  • have tact and sensitivity when dealing with bereaved relatives
  • have a mature and responsible attitude to work
  • have good verbal communication skills
  • be physically fit, able to lift heavy items and stand for long periods
  • be computer literate
  • have a genuine interest in science, and how the body works
  • be health and safety conscious
  • be methodical and able to pay attention to detail.

Anatomical Pathology Technician Career Opportunities

Most anatomical pathology technologists work in the NHS, but there are opportunities with local authority run public mortuary facilities. Currently there are more applicants than vacancies.

There is an established career structure for APTs, however, these vary throughout the UK.

APTs with sufficient experience and the RIPH Diploma, may apply for advanced technical work or managerial posts. Many experienced APTs will be involved in training other healthcare professionals.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Anatomical Pathology Technician that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
Bristol
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655
www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

Royal Institute of Public Health (RIPH)
28 Portland Place
London
W1B 1DE
Tel: 020 7580 2731
www.riph.org.uk

Association of Anatomical Pathology Technologists UK
12 Coldbath Square
London
EC1R 5HL
Tel: 020 7278 2151
www.aaptuk.org

Facts and Stats:

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  • The thumb has a special section, separate from the area that controls the fingers, reserved for it in the brain.

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