Pathologists' Assistant - MSc Program
Coordinator: Mr. Lance Fuczek 


This is a two year program to train paramedical personnel to function as Pathologists' Assistants in a clinical setting. Required courses are IMED7212 Introduction to Mechanisms of Disease and ANAT7470 Human Gross Anatomy; other relevant courses may also be taken. Attendance at department seminars and clinical rounds is also required. All applicants whose primary language is not English must pass, prior to admission, a Proficiency Test in the English Language (TOEFL and/or CanTEST). Students are only accepted every other year. The next year of admission will be September 2017.

Students will spend 3h/day working in autopsy and surgical pathology laboratory. They will create a manual related to cases studied. In addition, students will prepare an analytic report on an area of interest in Anatomic Pathology relating to the work of a Pathologist's Assistant and present this project as a thesis defense. 

What is a Pathologists' Assistant?

Pathologists' Assistants are highly trained paramedical professionals who work under the supervision of a medically-qualified pathologist, providing a broad range of services in anatomic pathology. Many of their duties are those previously performed by pathologists. The extra technical skills brought to the laboratory by the Pathologists' Assistant, standardize and enhance the overall quality in the practice of anatomic pathology. The Pathologists' Assistant assumes major responsibility for the initial examination and dissection of all surgically removed tissues and to a variable extent, for the dissection of bodies during post-mortem examination.

What do they do?

  • Describe and dissect surgical specimens
  • Standardize dissection techniques
  • Prepare teaching specimens
  • Teach dissection techniques and pathology
  • Photograph and X-Ray specimens
  • Summarize medical histories
  • Perform autopsy dissections
  • Assist in Research Projects
  • Supervise pathology residents and laboratory students
  • Develop processes for laboratory quality assurance
  • Ensure proper safety and health issues in the laboratory

Employment Opportunities

The increased use of tissue diagnosis and the growth of the related knowledge base have not been matched by growth in the numbers of pathologists. There is an increasing demand across North America for Pathologists' Assistants due to the shortage of pathologists. As a consequence, it has become essential to train paramedical personnel (Pathologists' Assistants) who can take responsibility for some of the tasks required to practice anatomical pathology.

Prerequisites for Admission

The students entering into this new program will be qualified for entry into a Master's level program with credentials that are currently acceptable to the University of Manitoba. This will include a 4-year undergraduate degree in Science. In addition, good communication skills - both written and verbal are essential and manual dexterity is required.

Tuition Fees

Fees are assessed by Student Records. Information regarding fees is accessible on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

About the Program

This is a two year program with a Master of Science degree conferred upon completion of the course. It is the first formal university-based Pathologists' Assistant training course in Canada. Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of course work with a minimum of six credit hours at the 700 level and the balance at the 300 level or above.  The required courses are:

1. Introduction to Mechanisms of Disease (IMED7212, 3 credit hours). (Formerly PATH7020). This course introduces the student to the basic principles of disease processes, with use of case models to illustrate mechanisms.  An assigned review, in conjunction with an essay and power point presentation will form part of the course. There are no course prerequisites.

2. Human Macroscopic Anatomy (ANAT7470, 6 credit hours). Introduction to gross anatomy via cadaver dissection, study of surface anatomy and radiographic anatomy. 

3. The practicum (PATH7030). Students will attend weekly seminars, and spend three hours per day in practicum work experience as follows: Year I: three terms (September through August: Fall, Winter, Summer); Year II: two terms (September through May: Fall, Winter) with a possible (if necessary) third term in Year 2. The clinical laboratory exposure will focus on surgical pathology and autopsy pathology and will include: 

  • Rotations through medical laboratories
  • Histology two week seminar - comprehensive short course in laboratory procedures
  • Practical experience of approximately 3 hours per day - provides the student with hands-on experience on how to perform analysis, descriptions, and dissections of all surgical specimens
  • Surgical specimen handling lectures - gives the student a complete understanding of the protocols for specimen examination and dissection
  • Weekly microscopy sessions - to provide the significance and correlation between the macroscopic findings, tissue selection, and diagnosis
  • Two 3 month autopsy rotations: Rotation 1: to teach the student by hands-on instruction the full duties and responsibilities of the Autopsy Technician; Rotation 2: to teach the student organ examination techniques, tissue selection, and autopsy reporting.

4. Students must complete a research project and thesis. This includes a written analytical report of an area of current controversy in the field of anatomical pathology.  The project study, in its magnitude, scope and rigor, will be comparable to a thesis at the Master's level.

Class Size and Facility

The class size is limited to two students every second year so that more individual attention can be given to the students during their practicum.  The required course work will take place in the Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, and the remainder of the course will mainly take place in the pathology departments of the three major tertiary care hospitals, Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface General Hospital and Grace General Hospital.

How do I Apply? | What do I need? | Where do I find an application?

Please write to:
Mr. Lance B. Fuczek
Director, Pathologists' Assistant Program
Department of Pathology
401 Brodie Centre
727 McDermot Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3E 3P5

Program Staff:

Mr. Lance Fuczek                  

Dr. Robert Wightman
Medical Director

Dr. Camelia Stefanovici            
Program Director 

Ms. Terri Martin

All program inquiries should be directed to:
Phone: 204-789-3212

Please consult the website of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba for information regarding admissions.

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Pathology Admissions | Apply Online | Faculty of Graduate Studies