For Pathologists’ Assistant students at the WVU School of Medicine, receiving their white coats is a milestone in their academic journey. It marks the transition from classroom instruction to hands-on clinical training in pathology laboratories.

“Pathologists’ assistants work mostly behind the scenes,” said Michell Costas, MHS, PA (ASCP), director of the Pathologists’ Assistant program. “The white coat reminds the students that they are becoming part of the healthcare team and contributing to patient care.”

During the second year of their program, WVU Pathologists’ Assistant students complete clinical rotations in surgical and autopsy pathology. This prepares them for a career where they will work closely with pathologists and surgeons to examine organs and tissues for disease, perform autopsies and prepare tissue samples for diagnosis.

Students gain valuable hands-on experience in a variety of settings, including academic healthcare systems, community hospitals, and medical examiner's offices. This experience can help them determine which pathology environment they prefer.

Meet our students

Andrea Berrian

Andrea Berrian of Fort Myers, Florida, completed her first clinical rotation with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office in Cleveland, Ohio. She focused on forensic autopsy and identifying pathology pertinent to establishing causes and manner of death. Her next rotation will be in hospital autopsy at WVU’s academic medical center, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Prior to joining the Pathologists’ Assistant program, she earned bachelor’s degrees in international studies and anthropology from the University of Florida and a master’s in human anatomy from the University of Dundee in Scotland.

“Right now, I’m not sure exactly where I want to land after graduation,” Berrian said. “That’s the benefit of these rotations, they allow me to decide not only what type of hospital/lab I would fit best in, but also what location works best for me.”

Amelia Adams

Amelia Adams of Weirton, West Virginia, is currently completing hospital autopsy rotations at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh where she is learning to piece together gross findings to help determine cause of death. Her next rotations will include surgical pathology, pediatric surgical pathology and forensic autopsy. Adams hopes to one day work in an academic hospital where she would have the opportunity to teach. Before entering the Pathologists’ Assistant program, Adams earned her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiologyfrom WVU.

“I chose the pathologists’ assistant career because I really enjoy the variation of specimens that you receive each day,” Adams said. “I also like that there is teamwork involved in the day-to-day responsibilities, but you can also work independently at some points too. Overall, it is an excellent career for someone who wants to work on very interesting cases alongside others, and also have a great work-life balance.”

Jonathan Partsch

Jonathan Partsch of Salix, Pennsylvania, is in his surgical pathology rotation at St. Elizabeth Edgewood Hospital in Edgewood, Kentucky. He is learning to process surgical specimens to make a diagnosis for a patient. His next rotation will be at a medical examiner’s office in Pennsylvania where he’ll work on forensic autopsy cases. After graduation, Partsch hopes to work in a surgical pathology lab for an academic institution. Previously, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Juniata College.

“The WVU Pathologists’ Assistant program is a rigorous program with high expectations,” Partsch said. “The faculty are great, knowledgeable educators who actually practice as pathologists’ assistants. They also provide a number of labs that simulate the types of specimens we process in the lab. This hands-on experience is invaluable when entering clinical rotations as it provides a framework to build off of rather than try to learn the skills in the field.”

The pathologists’ assistant program accepts 16 students per year and has a 100% board certification rate and 100% job placement rate.

For more information on the Pathologists’ Assistant program, visit