Pathology's primary goal is to study and understand the four main aspects of disease:
Etiology: what causes disease
Pathogenesis: the mechanism by which a certain etiological factor causes disease, or the means by which disease is caused
Morphologic changes: the structural changes induced in cells, tissues and organs as a result of disease
Clinical significance: the functional consequences of the morphologic changes taking place in the body
Pathologists are medical doctors (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.). They are required to complete a four year undergraduate program, four years of medical school training, and four to five years of postgraduate training in the form of a pathology residency. Their training may be within two primary specialties, as recognized by the American Board of Pathology:
Anatomic Pathology: the science of diagnosing diseases based on the appearance of tissues, both gross and microscopic.
Clinical Pathology: the science of diagnosing diseases based on the analysis of body fluids like blood and urine.
Following general training, many pathologists continue to train in a more specialized field including General Surgical Pathology, Gastrointestinal Pathology and Genitourinary Pathology, Hematopathology, Dermatopathology, Microbiology, and Clinical Chemistry.