Microbiology and pathology are aspects of biology and are interrelated. However, both are distinct in terms of application. Microbiology and pathology involve studies related to microorganisms to varying extents. But microbiology is purely related to the study of microbes like bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses. And pathology is concerned with the study of diseases and their diagnosis.
If the etiological agent that is concerned with a particular disease is a pathogen that cannot be seen by the naked eye, then the pathologist will diagnose them through the help of a microbiologist. Hence both fields are interdisciplinary and most of the time the practitioners rely on each other for procedural requirements. One can prepare for microbiology and study pathology online for a well-rounded experience with help of 3D animated diagrams.
Microbiology is the science related to microbes that can be both good and also pathogenic. Few bacteria in the gut and other parts of the body help in maintaining homeostasis physiological conditions. These are known as good bacteria and are both pre and probiotics.
Most other microbes have a negative influence on the host that can range from any living being including humans, animals, and plants. They cause diseases, often some of which are life-threatening and hamper the immunity of a living being. As an eventuality, a microbial attack leads to sickness, which if untreated can be more dangerous as most of these diseases caused by microorganisms are communicable.
A microbiologist researches these microorganisms and helps in finding out how it affects the world around us. In the recent pandemic, microbiologists have played a vital role in detecting different variants that were changing their DNA format. A microbiologist in the current world is crucial in understanding an impending global healthcare problem related to antibiotic resistance.
One has to take up a bachelor’s degree in microbiology to pursue this field as the core profession. Many other sub-specializations in microbiology can be taken up by online certifications or fellow programs. Microbiologists can find prospective opportunities in industries related to food and beverage processing, agriculture storage and warehousing, veterinary science, research, and drug and pharma development. Interested students can even take up master’s and doctoral programs in microbiology.
Pathology is the study of diseases that afflict a living being. It is further subdivided based on the system of study as anatomy pathology, forensic pathology, dermatopathology, and clinical or laboratory pathology.
A person who is working in this field with a degree in pathology is known as a pathologist. They are trained to check the physiological changes that occur when a disease occurs and observe the changes to gauge the reaction to any drug influence given as a treatment measure. A forensic pathologist can analyze the cause and time of death by studying the cells and tissue changes that occur after death.
Pathology is an important arm of the healthcare sector, in the areas of preventive medicine, research, and diagnostics. It is required for effective and safe patient care. Physician pathologist completes their med school program and chooses pathology as their residency specialization. Most pathologists choose to study anatomy and clinical pathology in their residency program. Apart from physician pathologists, anyone with a degree in life sciences like microbiology can complete certificate programs in pathology and start working in a diagnostic lab. There are many opportunities for a pathologist in the field of public health departments, agriculture, law enforcement agencies, and veterinary fields.
Major differences between microbiology and pathology
1. Scope of work
The scope of microbiology is related to microbes and this includes both beneficial and pathogenic microbes. It is a study related to the microorganisms’ effects on other living beings like humans, animals, and plants.
The scope of pathology is related to the study of disease and the factors that cause the disease. If a microorganism is an underlying cause of a disease, then a pathologist finds these through the series of test results that might be recommended based on the symptoms displayed in a disease.
2. Educational requirements
A microbiologist can become an assistant in pathological departments, however, to become a physician or pathologist one has to clear a medical school program which is pursued after a bachelor’s degree in life sciences and MCAT is completed.
3. Career prospects
Both fields have definite prospects and are in demand in ancillary research programs related to healthcare and disease management and preventive medicines. In a world that is fast changing and new types of microbial attacks are initiated with changes in variant strains, both microbiologists and pathologists must play a major role in the fields of disease prevention and management at a large scale.
Common spaces of work for microbiology and pathology graduates
Infectious diseases and prevention from the unknown in terms of microscopic matter has become a relevant field specifically after the globe is seeing the spread of pandemic-related diseases like coronavirus, SARs virus and ebola spread.
Containing communicable diseases is important to help governments fight for the safe upkeep of their population. These microbes have parasitic abilities that influence the host’s body and destroy its immune system to naturally ward off any antigens or foraging bodies.
While the world is battling new diseases caused by microorganisms, we are still fighting tuberculosis and cholera in some parts of the world. The threat of the pandemic is real and the continuous battle with it is resulting in an extreme loss of lives and economic terms. Although governments and WHO have unified against such disease prevention practices, it is still an ongoing process with new challenges occurring time and again. This is the reason microbiologists and pathologists can work towards a common goal and that is to eradicate as many pathogenic diseases caused by microbes as possible.
Preventive disease management takes the help of fields of microbiology and pathology to achieve the common cause of protecting life and property-related livestock and agricultural produce. Graduate and undergraduate students with these majors can always find employment in the most interesting fields of life sciences.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.