PathA Curriculum

These are the courses you’ll take over your six semesters in the program. The program starts in the fall and is cohort based.  

Fall I - Semester 1 (August-December)

This course is designed as an introduction to the structure and function of the human body throughout the lifespan. This course incorporates problem-based learning that tends to develop clinical reasoning in students in their infancy. This course is the foundation for other courses. The initial lectures are given in a systemic format that allows for transition into regional anatomy. The systemic lectures cover basic anatomic terminology, osteology, arthrology, angiology and neurology. Lectures in regional anatomy will follow starting with back and limbs.

Medical Biochemistry emphasizes the clinical relevance of the basic principles and phenomena which define how the human body works at the molecular level. Throughout the course, diseases related to biochemical disorders will be emphasized with the aid of weekly clinical vignettes. Topics include protein structure, enzyme kinetics, metabolic pathways and basic nutrition, emphasizing their medical importance. A basic understanding of these issues lays the groundwork for making insightful diagnoses of disease states and managing the treatment of illnesses effectively. The course material is presented as pre-recorded video lectures and descriptive PowerPoint slides. Weekly discussion groups of the topics and the clinical vignettes reinforce the information. In addition, Primers, which are short videos, are made available to provide students with basic foundation for the course material.

The Medical Knowledge gained from the study of interconnected basic biochemical pathways covered this semester will become the basis upon which you understand fully the relationship between the patient’s presentation/diagnosis/treatment and the etiology and pathogenesis of their diseases. As in any course, we consistently strive to model professional behavior and use time together in the classroom to demonstrate and practice effective interpersonal and communication skills. Assessment and feedback of your mastery of these competencies will primarily be through formative in-class assessment and discussion, and summative multiple-choice exams.

Physiology is the study of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of living organisms. It seeks to explain and describe how we function at a cellular level, by the integration and overlap of many functions of the systems of the human body, as well as its accompanied form. It is achieved through communication, which occurs in a variety of ways, both electrically as well as chemically. A thorough understanding of the basic science is necessary for the subsequent study of pathology and managed care. The emphasis of this course is on integration of recurrent physiological concepts.

This course is designed to provide a comprehensive and fundamental understanding of basic physiological concepts, by a correlation of interactive based learning and quiz sessions with discussions of clinical cases, which will promote critical thinking and prepare students for medical conditions encountered in a clinical setting.

Course material will be presented in a recorded didactic format. The information is cumulative and therefore it is critical to listen to the scheduled audio lecture and keep up with the assigned reading material prior to class. Questions, during and after class sessions, are encouraged, as they are intended to make for an interactive process.

In this course, we study the human anatomy at the microscopic level. We will examine how the basic tissues are constructed and organized into organs and ultimately organ systems. The objective of this course is to have the student develop a systematic thinking process necessary for identifying histological specimens and correlation of structure and function. The student’s mastery of histology is essential for comprehending general pathology, which will commence in the spring semester.

Medical terminologies are universal; it allows the healthcare personnel to communicate in the language of medicine. In the field of medicine, being able to master medical terminologies is the foundation for understanding details in relation to a patient’s condition and treatment. This course is designed as an introduction to the Pathologists’ Assistant curriculum as an overview of the fundamental principles of elementary medical terminology that includes anatomy, physiology, systems, diagnostics testing, and pharmacology. Our goal is to provide the students with basic elements and rules to build and understand medical vocabulary.

This course will examine contemporary and historical cases in medical law and ethics. The course will be mainly interactive; case briefs will be assigned to read before class, followed by a discussion during class. Lastly, the current literature/recommendations referring to the issue will be evaluated.

Spring 1 - Semester 2 (January-May)

Medical Genetics course emphasizes the importance of genetics in medicine. This fundamental preclinical course is a continuation of Biochemistry I and conveys basic principles and phenomena which define how the human body works at the molecular level. Topics include principles of molecular biology, DNA technology. Throughout the course, diseases related to molecular and genetic disorders will be emphasized together with the aid of clinical vignettes. The first part of the course deals with the fundamental molecular biology topics and their medical applications such as human genome structure, DNA, RNA, protein synthesis, regulation of gene expression, and tools in genomic and molecular medicine. The second section of the course stresses genetics topics including a discussion of cancer genetics, modes of genetic inheritance, pedigrees and probabilities, population genetics, pharmacogenomics, prenatal diagnosis and screening and concludes with current approaches to the treatment of genetic diseases. The course material is presented as pre-recorded video lectures and descriptive PowerPoint slides. Weekly discussion groups of the topics and the clinical vignettes reinforce the information. In addition, Primers, which are short videos, provide you with basic foundation for the course material (a list of the Primer topics is given at the end of the syllabus). The goal of this course is to emphasize the relevance of genetics in a clinical context. Finally, as in any course, we consistently strive to model professional behavior and use time together in the classroom to demonstrate and practice effective interpersonal and communication skills. Assessment and feedback of your mastery of these competencies will primarily be through formative in-class assessment and discussion, and summative multiple-choice exams.

This course follows Clinical Anatomy and Embryology I and covers similar topics as this course; however, due to the large scale of topics to cover, students will review different parts of the human anatomy in I and II.

This course is designed as an introduction to the structure and function of the human body throughout the lifespan. Our main goal in building this course is based on the firm belief that Clinical Anatomy is the cornerstone for medical education. Our course incorporates problem-based learning that tends to develop clinical reasoning in students in their infancy.

This course is the foundation for other courses. The initial lectures are given in a systemic format that allows for transition into regional anatomy. The systemic lectures will cover basic anatomic terminology, osteology, arthrology, angiology and neurology. Lectures in regional Anatomy will follow starting with back and limbs.

General pathology is the study of disease, the expression of structural and functional abnormalities of tissues and organs. Pathology presents the framework within which knowledge is integrated across traditional disciplines and applied to clinical medicine. In this course, students will apply their knowledge of histology, cell biology, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology to understanding the causes (etiology) and mechanisms (pathogenesis) underlying disease in general. This course, commonly referred as “Robbins First Ten Chapters” (Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th Ed. 2015), teaches general concepts necessary to understand concepts and details of organ/system pathology.

In this course, students will apply the pathophysiology principles to establish a proper relationship between structure and function, consequently understanding how possible alterations lead to onset of disease. To further this association, the pathology lab will make use of clinical cases to assist the students to have a deeper understanding of how this scientific knowledge could possibly apply in a clinical setting. In the Introduction to General Pathology course, students will integrate the foundations learned in anatomy, physiology, immunology, and genetics and gear this content toward pathology principles and in association with the epidemiological relevance of each disease process. The mastery of the course content will be constantly challenged and reinforced by the integrated use of multiple-choice exams, morphological quizzes, and clinical scenarios, all set to reproduce the usual demands encountered not only by pathologists but also by other physicians in clinical practice. Their knowledge will work in alignment with the competency of Interpersonal and Communication Skills, which will be promoted by small group discussions during clicker and lab sessions, enabling the students to establish and maintain relationships as they brainstorm medical problems. Finally, as in any course, we consistently strive to model professional behavior and use time together in the classroom and lab sessions to demonstrate and practice effective interpersonal and communication skills. Assessment and feedback of the student mastery of these competencies will primarily be through formative in-class assessment and discussion, interaction with faculty in the lab setting, and summative multiple-choice exams.

Histotechnology is the preparation of anatomic pathology materials for further examination, typically microscopic in nature. Although the most common type of preparation includes embedding, cutting and staining formalin-fixed anatomic pathology materials for microscopic review, this course will also introduce ancillary techniques that are frequently used in combination with routine histologic preparations for diagnostic or investigative tissue evaluation.

Special emphasis will be given to practical sectioning of frozen sections of variety of unfixed tissues.

In the Medical Imaging part of this course, students will be introduced to and perform hands-on exercises in medical photography. Medical photography serves an important role in preserving the intact appearance of a specimen before it has been dissected for further testing. It may be regarded as a form of medicolegal documentation but can also provide information to a pathologist about gross features of a lesion and can be used to designate histologic sections. Photographs may also be used to document a specimen for medicolegal purposes, annotate microscopic descriptions sampled from a complex surgical pathology specimen, enhance a pathology report, or for educational purposes. This course is meant to be an introduction to medical photography, with the understanding that the student will be provided with further disease-specific photography opportunities in second year rotations.

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the structure and function of the nervous system. Neuroanatomy is a difficult subject owing to the three-dimensional aspects of constituent structures and the complexity of the associated vocabulary. Once you acquire the terminology, the functional aspects are better appreciated. This course is designed to reflect this approach to learning.

This course is divided into three parts.

  • Section one details the cellular and subcellular components comprising the nervous system, how the cells of the nervous system function and interrelate, the development of the nervous system and the gross structure and blood supply of the nervous system. The purpose of this first section is to get the student familiar with the terminology and structural bases of nervous system structure and function and to lay down the basis for understanding mechanisms and outcomes of nervous system dysfunction.
  • Section two of the course describes the various levels of the central nervous system. We march up the neuraxis and discuss how neural structure and function are integrated. Thus, this section addresses the spinal cord, brainstem, cranial nerves, reticular formation, diencephalon, and forebrain to demonstrate the some of the pathways the nervous system takes to control function.
  • Section three focuses on sensory systems, motor systems, and some integratory structures. We explore common disorders by which brain structure is altered and dysfunction ensues.

After attending this course, each student

  1. will have a knowledge of the nomenclature used in clinical neurosciences,
  2. will have a sound understanding of the organization and function of the nervous system (including sensory, motor, and integrative processing),
  3. will have a solid footing for appreciating pathology taught in future courses, and
  4. will be able to recognize how neuroanatomy plays a role in our understanding of the tenants of medicine.

The underlying philosophy of this course is that practitioners should understand the sciences of immunology and microbiology as they relate to the practice of medicine. Therefore, the goal is to build a foundation of clinically relevant basic science knowledge that will then be applied to the understanding of the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of infections and immunologically mediated diseases.

Summer 1 - Semester 3 (May-August)

Pathology is the study of disease. This course will provide students with the ability to understand pathophysiologic mechanisms of disease, associate how certain mechanisms contribute to clinical presentations, symptoms and disease patterns, and recognize key morphologic gross and histopathologic features and changes seen in organs associated with certain disorders. The first portion of the course focuses on basic pathologic processes which affect all systems of the body. The remainder of the course will consist of a presentation of the disease processes which affect specific organ systems of the body. Acquisition of this knowledge will enhance the student’s understanding and application of pathologic practices and principles and follow the pathologists’ assistant core competencies. Prerequisites include Clinical Anatomy and Embryology I and II, Histology and Cell Biology, Physiology, and Histotechnology and Medical Imaging. This course also complements the Practical Pathology I course.

ORGAN SYSTEMS MODULES

  1. The cardiorespiratory system
  2. The digestive system
  3. The breast
  4. The female genital system
  5. Urinary tract and male genital system
  6. Head and neck
  7. Endocrine system

This course is designed to transition the pathologists’ assistant student from the knowledge-based basic science curriculum into the more practical aspects of day-to-day pathologists’ assistant work that will be expanded and built upon during their subsequent clinical rotations and throughout their career. The course sequence parallels that of General/Systemic Pathology I and is to be taken at the same time, building on principles of Histology and Cell Biology, Histotechnology and Medical Imaging, Clinical Anatomy and Embryology I and II, and Physiology previously introduced. In addition to instruction focused on gross appearance of the diseases covered in General/Systemic Pathology I, the student will learn how to sample and process specimens (adult, geriatric, pediatric, neonatal) obtained from patients with these diseases, whether surgically or at autopsy, to fulfill standardized criteria for pathology reports. Pertinent laboratory and clinical findings will also be incorporated, with emphasis on choice of pathologic analysis studies.

ORGAN SYSTEMS MODULES

  1. The cardiorespiratory system
  2. The digestive system
  3. The breast
  4. The female genital system
  5. Urinary tract and male genital system
  6. Head and neck
  7. Endocrine system

Effective laboratory management involves the orchestration of multiple aspects of a laboratory to ensure high quality reproducible materials. Included are aspects of compliance with regulatory agencies, monitoring of safety, document management, personnel management, procurement of supplies, proper billing, quality assurance, and laboratory information systems.

Fall 2 - Semester 4 (August-December)

Pathology is the study of disease. This course will provide students with the ability to understand pathophysiologic mechanisms of disease, associate how certain mechanisms contribute to clinical presentations, symptoms and disease patterns, and recognize key morphologic gross and histopathologic features and changes seen in organs associated with certain disorders. The first portion of the course focuses on basic pathologic processes which affect all systems of the body. The remainder of the course will consist of a presentation of the disease processes which affect specific organ systems of the body. Acquisition of this knowledge will enhance the student’s understanding and application of pathologic practices and principles and follow the pathologists’ assistant core competencies. Prerequisites include Clinical Anatomy and Embryology I and II, Histology and Cell Biology, Physiology, Histotechnology and Medical Imaging, and General and Systemic Pathology I. This course also complements the Practical Pathology II Course.

ORGAN SYSTEMS MODULES

  1. The bone soft tissue and skin
  2. Central nervous system and eye
  3. Hematopoietic and lymphatic system

This course is designed to transition the pathologists’ assistant student from the knowledge-based basic science curriculum into the more practical aspects of day-to-day pathologists’ assistant work that will be expanded and built upon during their subsequent clinical rotations and throughout their career. The course sequence parallels that of General/Systemic Pathology and is to be taken at the same time, building on principles of Histology and Cell Biology, Histotechnology, Medical Imaging, Clinical Anatomy and Embryology I and II, Physiology and Practical Pathology I. In addition to instruction focused on gross appearance of the diseases covered in General/Systemic Pathology, the student will learn how to sample and process specimens (adult, geriatric, pediatric, neonatal, infant) obtained from patients with these diseases, whether surgically or at autopsy, to fulfill standardized criteria for pathology reports. Pertinent laboratory and clinical findings will also be incorporated, with emphasis on choice of pathologic analysis studies.

ORGAN SYSTEMS MODULES

  1. The bone soft tissue and skin
  2. Central nervous system and eye
  3. Hematopoietic and lymphatic system

Clinical Rotations are designed to transition the pathologists’ assistant student from the knowledge-based basic science curriculum into the more practical aspects of day-to-day Pathologists’ Assistant work. Clinical Rotations will be built upon knowledge of General and Systemic Pathology, Practical Pathology, and upon Laboratory Management courses given during the third and fourth semesters. The Clinical Rotations will expose students to the practical hands-on work in real life environments and will expand the knowledge received in the didactic classes. Students will participate in the routine, everyday work of a pathologists’ assistant. Students will learn how to prepare and perform an autopsy, how to prepare specimens, how to appropriately document specimens, and how to properly dissect surgical and biopsy specimens. Students will also be introduced to ancillary diagnostic techniques and methodologies.

Spring 2 - Semester 5 (January-May)

Clinical Rotations are designed to transition the pathologists’ assistant student from the knowledge-based basic science curriculum into the more practical aspects of day-to-day Pathologists’ Assistant work. Clinical Rotations will be built upon knowledge of General and Systemic Pathology, Practical Pathology, and upon Laboratory Management courses given during the third and fourth semesters. The Clinical Rotations will expose students to the practical hands-on work in real life environments and will expand the knowledge received in the didactic classes. Students will participate in the routine, everyday work of a pathologists’ assistant. Students will learn how to prepare and perform an autopsy, how to prepare specimens, how to appropriately document specimens, and how to properly dissect surgical and biopsy specimens. Students will also be introduced to ancillary diagnostic techniques and methodologies.

Summer 2 - Semester 6 (May-August)

Clinical Rotations are designed to transition the pathologists’ assistant student from the knowledge-based basic science curriculum into the more practical aspects of day-to-day Pathologists’ Assistant work. Clinical Rotations will be built upon knowledge of General and Systemic Pathology, Practical Pathology, and upon Laboratory Management courses given during the third and fourth semesters. The Clinical Rotations will expose students to the practical hands-on work in real life environments and will expand the knowledge received in the didactic classes. Students will participate in the routine, everyday work of a pathologists’ assistant. Students will learn how to prepare and perform an autopsy, how to prepare specimens, how to appropriately document specimens, and how to properly dissect surgical and biopsy specimens. Students will also be introduced to ancillary diagnostic techniques and methodologies.