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What to expect working as a Histopathologist in the NHS

  • October 21, 2020


Histopathology in the UK encompasses surgical pathology, autopsy and cytopathology and is arguably one of the most rewarding and individually challenging medical career choices. Histopathologists are responsible for making tissue diagnoses and helping clinicians manage a patient’s care. The specialty determines the cause of death by performing autopsies and is integral to cancer management through staging and grading of tumours.

As an international recruitment company, BDI Resourcing recommend that Histopathologists wanting to work within the NHS take the FRCPath route to their GMC Registration.

What should I expect?

On a typical day as a Histopathologist within the NHS, you would spend time in the laboratory cutting up tissue specimens for processing by other laboratory staff, and time in the office making diagnoses at the microscope and writing reports on patients for doctors.

Common procedures and interventions that you will be responsible for as a Histopathologist practicing within the NHS will include, but are not limited to:

  • examination and dissection of surgical resection specimens, to select the most appropriate samples for microscope slides
  • microscopic examination of tissues, with subsequent construction of clinical reports
  • carrying out fine-needle aspirations
  • carrying out autopsies

It is important to note, that whilst you may not be spending much time directly with patients, you will be expected to work as part of a large multidisciplinary team, alongside a wide range of surgeons, physicians, GP’s, biomedical scientists, anatomical pathology technicians, radiologists and nurses. You will spend time presenting and discussing patient cases with these other healthcare professionals at multidisciplinary team meetings.  Additionally, you would also be expected to get involved in teaching and research in your expert area, especially if you are a more senior member of staff.

The bulk of the day’s work for a Histopathologist within the NHS will usually consist of examining slides under a microscope and formulating clinical reports. The specialty is consultant-led, meaning that consultants will generally look at all the samples being analysed.

Can I specialize?

Whilst there are no specific sub specialties within Histopathology, many Doctors have specific interests which they will pursue within their own workplace, whether it be Breast, Liver or Head and Neck.

Instead of subspecialties, there is the option to join one of three CCT Specialist programs to which a Histopathologist may be appointed to during their ST3 level Training (after completion of their ST1/ST2 years within the UK). These CCT pecialties are:

  1. Forensic Histopathology
  2. Diagnostic Neuropathology
  3. Paediatric and Perinatal Pathology

Where will I be working?

Working as a histopathologist, you’ll work in a hospital, alongside many other doctors, nurses, laboratory staff, biomedical scientists, secretaries and mortuary staff. Most histopathologists don’t have direct contact with patients, but their work plays a vital role in patient care.

Due to the majority of a Histopathologists work being microscopy, you will spend a lot of your working hours at the desk in your office or cutting up specimens at the laboratory bench. In some cases, you may be required in the operation theatre of a Hospital for an urgent ‘frozen section’. In addition to this, histopathologists will usually be involved in multidisciplinary team meetings with clinicians in various settings around the hospital. Some time may also be spent in the mortuary.

Relocating to the UK

If you are an international Histopathologist who would like to relocate to the UK , email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS post and on your relocation journey to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs to the group each day. We will also be on hand to answer all of your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 60 videos covering everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS.

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go with IMG Advisor the Podcast! You can listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.


Health Careers. 2020. Histopathology (Doctor). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 October 2020].

Pathologists, T., 2020. Histopathology. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 October 2020].


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