Training in histopathology

Histopathology encompasses surgical pathology, autopsy and cytopathology, though cytopathology can be practised independently as a recognised subspecialty. To train as a consultant histopathologist, you’ll need a medical background. Once you’ve completed the first part of your training, you can choose to specialise later on – to work in forensics, neuropathology, paediatric and perinatal pathology or cytopathology.

What are the entry requirements?

To enter training to be a consultant histopathologist, you’ll need to:

  • qualify as a doctor
  • register with the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • complete the UK Foundation Training Programme or equivalent.

You can start training up to three and a half years after completing a UK foundation training programme or equivalent, and some trainees enter histopathology training after experience in other training programmes e.g. Core Medical Training (CMT). You can also start training after post-foundation clinical training.

How long will it take?

If you’re training full time, training to be a consultant histopathologist takes around five years. Once you have completed the first two years of histopathology training, you can decide to stay in general histopathology or move into one of the related sub-specialties – forensic histopathology, diagnostic neuropathology, paediatric and perinatal pathology or cytopathology.

What will my training cover?

There are four stages of training for histopathology: A, B, C and D

Stage A covers an introduction to surgical pathology, cytopathology, autopsy pathology and molecular pathology. Trainees can arrange a placement in paediatric pathology and neuropathology in either Stage A or Stage B.

During stage B, you’ll broaden your experience and understanding of histopathology, and will need to demonstrate your ability to perform a number of tasks before moving on – including independently cutting up specimens, screening cervical samples and writing reports on specimens and frozen sections.

During stages C and D you’ll have the opportunity to continue with histopathology, or specialise further in forensics, diagnostic neuropathology, paediatric and perinatal pathology or cytopathology. You’ll also be able to take on optional training in autopsies, cervical cytology and research methodology.

Find out more about specialty training in histopathology.

What exams will I need to take?

To complete your training, you’ll be required to pass the following.

  • Histopathology Stage A examination – this will test your competency and aptitude for further training in the specialty and is normally taken in the first year of Histopathology training.
  • FRCPath Part 1 in Histopathology – this aims to determine whether you have successfully acquired a core body of knowledge that will underpin your ability to practise in Histopathology.
  • FRCPath Part 2 in Histopathology – this is designed to test your practical skills and understanding, and show that you can apply your expertise appropriately and safely.

For further information about the format of exams, visit our exams pages.