Careers in Healthcare S1 E10 Healthcare science : Anatomical pathology technologist

Content warning

This episode contains content that may be upsetting to some listeners. The nature of Laura’s work means that there will be graphic depictions of post mortems.

Laura’s an anatomical pathology technologist (APT), which means that she cares for the deceased in the mortuary. In this episode, we discuss her journey to become a senior APT and how you can get into this role too!


APTs assist pathologists with post mortems. Laura might help to remove organs so that they can be dissected or work on reconstituting the body so that the deceased is ready for viewing by family. She also deals with admissions and removals by undertakers.

Laura's motivation

Before Laura started as a trainee APT, she’d worked as a dental nurse. While she already had experience in a clinical environment, she was keen to try something different. When she saw her role advertised, Laura asked to come in to speak with potential colleagues to find out more before applying.

Laura's education pathway

Once she got the job, Laura completed her Level 3 and Level 4 Diploma in Anatomical Technology Pathology. You must be in an APT role before you’re able to do these diplomas. If you’re interested in finding out more about these qualifications before you start, visit:

Laura’s been in her role for 7 years now and has recently become a senior APT.

The best part of being an anatomical pathology technologist

The best part of Laura’s role is making sure loved ones can view the deceased. This can be a challenging experience but offering comfort to loved ones that attend the viewing room is incredibly rewarding.

Laura explains that there are loads of misconceptions about her role! People watch crime dramas and horror films and have preconceived ideas of what an APT does. These dramatisations are usually inaccurate and tend to focus on the clinical parts of the role. Laura assures us that APT's also provide lots of support and comfort to loved ones viewing the deceased.

Work experience in the mortuary is not possible. However, Laura says it would be helpful to get experience of working elsewhere in a healthcare role by doing a work placement. You could also learn a lot of relevant skills by volunteering.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Laura’s rewarding role as an anatomical pathology technologist. Make sure to tune in to our other episodes to find out more about different healthcare science roles in NHSScotland. If you’d like to read about NHSScotland careers, including those in healthcare science, explore our careers.