Rewards of Being a Histologist
Histotechnology is a profession that people generally stumble into, but once they find it, they're in love. They are invisible heroes. Histotechnologists are drawn to the field because of their strong interest in patient care. They want to make a difference in people's lives and work in healthcare but don't thrive on the direct patient contact that is seen by a nurse or doctor. They play a vital role behind the scenes, performing the tasks necessary to bridge the gap between collecting a specimen and patient diagnosis and possible treatment.
Besides the rewards of being an essential part of patient treatment, Histotechnologists find their diverse interests fulfilled in the profession, making it intrinsically rewarding. Many are drawn to the field specifically because it combines science with art, allowing Histotechnologists to express both the creative and logical sides of their brain. The stains that ultimately lead to diagnosis are also often very visually striking. Colorful, detailed tissue structures are illuminated through chemical dyes, while immunofluorescent techniques produce stunning neon pictures. These pictures could almost belong in an art gallery. In fact, histology art is prevalent on Instagram and even sold in prints, t-shirts, and these days, masks.
Histotechnologist Work Environments
Histotechnology is a diverse field that offers numerous avenues for people in this profession to pursue based on their interests.
- Hospitals: Histotechnologists often work in the local community and large metropolitan hospitals with an in-house department of pathology.
- Private Laboratories: Private laboratories are established by medical facilities to perform tests on the patients in their practice. Histotechnologists process the tissue samples that are procured from within the network of clinics many of which focus on specialized care including gastroenterology, urology and dermatopathology.
- Reference Laboratories: Reference labs provide histology services for various external clients, including clinical trial requests, veterinary offices, scientific studies, doctors' offices, hospitals, etc. Large reference labs are emerging in the research area in the form of Laboratory Developed Tests.
- Academic and Research Facilities: On the cutting edge of histology, academic hospitals and universities work on immunology, antitumor immunity, molecular diagnostics, microbial pathogenesis, antigen selection, t-cell development, and more.
- Contract Research Organization: Contract Research Organizations (CRO) provide histology services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries, as well as government and academia, outsourced on a contract basis. Histotechnologists perform routine histology procedures for studies or more specialized procedures involving specialized trimming and processing techniques, IHC, molecular techniques, and image analysis with some procedures requiring method development.
- Pharmaceutical Companies: Histotechnologists play a vital role in developing drugs designed to treat the diseases their profession identifies. Knowing how tissues and antibodies respond to various chemicals is essential in determining whether a treatment will be effective.
- Government Agencies: Histotechnologists employed by the government include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, and various state Bureaus of Investigation.