A Random Question

I attended a conference this past weekend and while I was walking to one of the workshops, I asked a random question to a total stranger who was setting up her CHS conference table. “What is CHS?” I asked.

What is CHS? Well, I forgot … but I know what the H stood for…Histology. And for the next 30 minutes I learned in detail all about the work that histologist do.

Histologists are those people behind the scene who dissect skin tissue and moles.  Through the use of microscopes and tissue slides, histology technicians allow a pathologist to identify benign or malignant diseases. Take a piece of skin. Put it on a slide. Pour some dye on it. Freeze it. Slice it. Observe it. Hand it off to a pathologist.

You’ll never see this career highlighted on any tv show but if you did, you’d probably see a host of animated people. The histologists loved what they did and it showed in the description of their work, the examples they gave me and stories they shared.  And there is a dearth of histologists. Many are retiring and taking their knowledge with them. Training is 6-9 months with 2 years of on-the -job training but once completed the jobs are there.

My random question led me to engaging conversation, knowledge about an entire profession I had never heard of, a business card and … a trip to a search engine to learn more. I love these off the cuff learning experiences where information is shared and exchanged. It’s like blogging except I get a pen and some chocolate when I’m done!

Here’s more on Histology:

Histology is an essential component to the art and science of pathology. The histology laboratory contributes a valuable service to help pathologists provide patient diagnoses. Information gained through microscopic evaluation of tissue slides prepared by histology technicians allows a pathologist to either identify or dismiss disease. The preparatory steps taken to ensure a quality diagnosis are key to this relationship. Knowledge of the basic pathologic conditions, skills in the use of precision equipment, and performance of special stains enable histology technicians to accurately demonstrate the morphology of tissue specimens. Knowledge of biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and medical terminology is essential for the professional histology technician or technologist. In addition, attention to detail, good manual dexterity, and above all, a concern for patient well-being are imperative characteristics of a good histology technician.


Mayo Clinic

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