Histologic Technoloy also known as histology is the study of tissues and their structures. Spread of disease affects tissues in many different but distinctive ways, which can be very helpful in making a diagnosis or determining the conditions of a specimen and how it has progressed. Histology labs are usually found in many hospitals, there are also independent private laboratories that provide histologic services. Because of the great variety of tests that are available and the high level of skill that is needed to carry them out and interpret them, many laboratories specialize in specific tissues or specific types of diagnosis. For example, a neuropathology laboratory will focus on understanding diseases that affect the nervous system. Teams often work in groups across regions to provide as many broad ranges of services as possible. Thus, only the most diagnostically useful tests are generally available in hospital laboratories, where as a research laboratory would be limited to more specific studies. Laboratories prepare microscope sections that are stained to show specific features of the cells and structures within the tissues. The services offered range anywhere from fixation, staining, paraffin, frozen tissue, plastic histology’s services as well as immunohistochemistry and pathology. Providing complete services for all routine tissue processing, embedding, sectioning and develop interpretations of the final sections once all special staining has been completed. The scope of practice for a histology lab is typically focused on three elements including but not limited to a pre-analytical phase, analytical phase, and post-analytical phase. Defects may occur at any of these phases resulting in an incorrect diagnosis. This ensures quality assurance, and quality control. The code of ethics of histology consist of conducting professional life with trust, dignity integrity, and place the welfare of the patient above all else including realization of the patient’s best interest. (https://www.nsh.org/about/overview/code-of-ethics)
In order to become a histologist, one must obtain either a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree in a histologic technology program that is accredited by the NAACLS (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences) Upon completion, one must take a histologic technologist (HT) certification examination by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP). After examination, one must apply for licensure with the Florida State Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel. According to NAACLS and the Florida society for histologic technology currently there are only four colleges in Florida that are offering this program which are Florida State College, Keiser University, Miami Dade College, and Barry University. (https://www.naacls.org/Find-a-Program.aspx), (http://www.fshgroup.org/state-of-florida-histology-schools/). In order to complete this program, it typically takes anywhere from 2 to 4 years to complete and cost of tuition varies from $9,000 to $13,000. (http://www.mdc.edu/histotechnology/) (https://www.fscj.edu/academics/areas-of-study/health-human-services/histologic-technology-as).
Students who pursue studies in this field may find employment in job roles such as histology technician, grossing technician, histology supervisor, or histology manager. 5,983 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists are currently employed in a 50-mile radius from Miami. This number is expected to increase by 10.4% over the next four years. There are many jobs advertised in this career field from indeed, zip recruiter, career builder, etc. Experience is preferred but not required, if one has obtained their license form the Florida State Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel, they will be able find available work opportunities in the related field. The average Histology Technician salary in the United States is $57,543 as of October 31, 2018, but the range typically varies between $50,924 and $63,370 a year. (https://www1.salary.com/Histology-Technician-Salaries.html)
There are many organizations a student can join such as the national society for histotechnology. One-year memberships cost $40 for students, while two-year memberships are $80. Students may hold a student membership for a maximum of two years. A student may also join the American society for clinical pathology (ASCP) annual memberships are free for students. (https://www.ascp.org/content/membership/become-a-member)
Continuing educational units (CEUs) are not required however, a Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) certification is required which consist of 36 points required. 1 point in laboratory or patient safety, 2 points in area in which you are certified, and the remaining points in area of specialty, management, education, or other related laboratory areas of interest. These are to be completed every three years following certification. These credits can be obtained through a variety of providers including but not limited to NSH, CLMA AABB, AAXX, AAPA, AGT, AMA, ETC.
I envision myself in a high-end histologic laboratory where I can build my knowledge base and skill set. One day I aspire to be a manager at a histology laboratory overseeing all procedures and protocols to run an effective and successful lab. Furthermore, I do plan on continuing my education in the biotechnology department as well as completing my certificate in accounting and business management. I have the idea and ambition of using my business and accounting background to further my skills into developing my own practice someday. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have encountered and journey I have yet to experience. There are many things I want to accomplish in life and I am proud to have come this far in my journey today.