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 3.5 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 5 years. Once you have completed the first 2 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?

Trainees in the four cellular pathology specialties will initially enter a period of integrated cellular pathology training (ICPT). This will include common fundamental learning according to the generic capabilities in practice (CiPs) and specialty competencies as detailed in the curriculum. All trainees will undertake short periods of training across the four specialties, along with basic autopsy training, cytopathology training and training in molecular pathology. It is anticipated that they will undertake the Fellowship Examination of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) Part 1 between months 12 and 24 (full-time equivalent).

After 2 years of ICPT, trainees will enter into higher speciality training in histopathology for an indicative 2.5 years of training, with higher autopsy and cervical cytology training each comprising a further 3 months. It is anticipated that histopathology trainees will attempt the FRCPath Part 2 examination in histopathology in their penultimate year of training, followed by approximately 6–12 months of experiential learning to further develop their abilities as independent practitioners. They will be expected to pass the FRCPath Part 2 at least 6 months prior to their CCT date.

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.

  • 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.