An anatomical pathology technologist (APT) helps a pathologist to carry out a post-mortem examination (dissecting a body to find out the cause of death). The APT also runs the mortuary on a day to day basis. They were previously called mortuary technicians.
You could be:
- receiving into the mortuary, the bodies of people who have died suddenly and placing them into cold storage units
- standing by at the post-mortem operation, and passing instruments such as scalpels to the pathologist
- weighing each organ as the pathologist removes it, and taking samples for toxicology and histopathology analysis
- afterwards, helping replace all the organs in the body and reconstructing, stitching up and cleaning the body
- ensuring a high standard of presentation of the body following a post-mortem, so that the body is suitable for viewing
- cleaning and sterilising all instruments and washing down the floors and walls
- liaising with doctors, police, the procurator fiscal and funeral director and assisting with documents for death certificates
- taking out the bodies for relatives to view and perhaps identify, and giving them information and support
- keeping accurate computer records of the identity of the body and its possessions.
A trainee anatomical pathology technologist (APT) on the NHS Agenda for Change scale usually starts on Band 3, £17,760 to £20,727 a year. Once qualified this rises to Band 4, £20,302 to £22,910 a year.
Senior APTs are on Band 5, £22,440 to £29,034 a year.
Pay for APTs working outside the NHS starts at around £14,500 a year, rising to around £32,000 a year with experience.
The current pay scales are from April 2017.
- You work 37 to 40 hours a week with occasional overtime and on call work.
- You would usually work alongside a pathologist.
- During the post-mortem you wear full safety clothing: visor, gown, gloves and boots.
- You should be fit, since the work can be physically and mentally demanding.
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- For entry as a trainee APT, you would require 4-5 subjects at National 5, including English, Maths and a science subject, Biology preferred.
- Knowledge of the practices of different religions is useful.
- You should have a good level of physical fitness.
- Most jobs are in NHS hospital mortuaries and local authority public mortuaries, although some are in mortuaries attached to the procurator fiscal service.
Vacancies are advertised in local press, the NHS Jobs (England and Wales), NHS Scotland Recruitment and Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology websites.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- good practical skills
- excellent hand to eye co-ordination
- an awareness of different religious beliefs
- excellent communication skills
- a good knowledge of anatomy and physiology
- an awareness of health and hygiene regulations and procedures.
You need to be:
- tactful and sensitive in dealing with grieving relatives
- able to cope with upsetting sights and smells
- able to carry out administration and computer work
- able to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
- accurate with excellent attention to detail
- able to concentrate intensely for long periods.
- You would start your training on the job, observing the wide range of mortuary procedures, followed by carrying out tasks under the supervision of senior APTs or pathologists.
- You would attend mandatory training in manual handling, infection control and health and safety.
- You would be required to work towards the Level 3 Diploma in Anatomical Pathology Technology, awarded by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). Training is divided into taught units and workplace competency units which you can complete in 1-2 years.
- The training includes anatomy, physiology, post-mortem room techniques, hygiene, hazards, precautions, law and documentation.
- The Diploma would lead to full membership of the RSPH.
- Throughout your career you will be expected to undertake continuous professional development, keeping up to date with policies, procedures and developments in the field.
- With further experience you might gain promotion to senior posts where you are training other APTs or managing a mortuary.
- You might train in a specialist field such as assisting forensic pathologists with murder victims.
- You can also move into a related job such as funeral director.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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