While most of you are sleeping, I'm busy working. I will tell you all a little bit about my profession, histopathology, and some of my favorite areas of work.
These summaries are taken from the National Society of Histotechnology
What is Histotechnology?
The Art and Science of Histotechnology: A Career to Consider
The birth of histologic technique dates back to 1664 when Robert Hooke cut sections of cork with his pen knife and observed them under a microscope. In 1670, Leeuwenhoek made sections from a quill, a bovine optic nerve and the centers of dried flowers using his hand sharpened razor. These events were the beginning of what was to become an important and unique laboratory discipline.
Histology is a structural science concerned with the demonstration of cellular morphology, chemical composition and function of normal and abnormal tissue. Many dyes and chemicals are used in histology and it is necessary to know their composition and how they act and react with each other. This knowledge, combined with an understanding of tissue composition, enables the histotechnologist to appropriately treat the tissue of interest. The end result yields a tissue section exhibiting distinct colors, making it possible to distinguish tissue structures through microscopic examination.
Histotechnology is a dynamic profession with new technology and methodology continually evolving. Once formal training is complete, there are numerous opportunities for continuing education via professional state societies and through the National Society for Histotechnology.
Scientist. Anatomist. Chemist. Medical Professional. A career in histotechnology is composed of these and much more. The search to unlock the secrets held by tissue structure reaches into many fields. It is through the skills of the histotechnologist that these secrets are revealed with color and clarity. Where such medical and scientific activity is pursued, it is certain that the histotechnologist will be regarded as a valuable member of the team.
If you make your decision to enter the healthcare profession and dedicate your life to the highest standards of excellence and integrity, your reward will include career satisfaction enjoyed by only a select few.
As a result of the histotechnologist’s skillful application of sophisticated laboratory techniques, the seemingly invisible world of tissue structure becomes visible under the microscope. Without the skills and expertise of the histotechnologist, many diagnoses could not be accurately made. Since this process requires a number of different skills, histotechnology is one of the most versatile of all the laboratory professions. The diverse tasks performed by the histotechnologist require patience, mechanical ability, knowledge of biology, physics, anatomy and chemistry; and the ability to work quickly but carefully.
Histotechnology is a career with many diverse specializations. The frozen section technique, which assists surgeons during patient surgery, requires the histotechnologist to perform STAT preparations of suspicious tissues sent from the Operating Room. Speed, accuracy and cooperation are critical. The surgeon, anesthesiologist and other operating room personnel await histologic diagnosis before proceeding with surgery.
With specialized training, histotechnologists may choose a career in electron microscopy. There, tissues are much smaller than those used in histology and are actually cut with the use of a microscope. Specific techniques and precise skills produce sections thin enough to allow the transmission of an electron beam to reveal tissue and cellular ultrastructure.
Another highly specialized area, immunohistochemistry includes the staining of antigenic sites to identify tumor cell lines within the tissue using various stains and antibodies.
Mastering these and other techniques, including certification by an accrediting institution, are essential in order to enter the medical profession of histotechnology. It is challenging and rewarding work.
So, there you have your generic description of Histology. I spend most of my night preparing slides for microscopic evaluation. I spend part of the night doing Qualtiy Control/Quality Assurance to make sure that all our testing is reliable and accurate. A recent case
which involved a healthy kidney being removed instead of the cancerous kidny are just some of the errors that can happen in diagnosis of diseases. It was not known that that the wrong kidney was removed until a pathologist looked at the kidney microscopically on slides prepared by a histotechnologist.
I'm also very interested in specialized procedures of Immunohistochemistry
. Some of the most valuable tests are for Her2neu
and ER/PR(estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor) which are valuable for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Enough of all the science talk. Hope you enjoyed getting a glimse into my career.