A histotechnologist helps prepare microscopic slides containing animal or human tissue to be observed and diagnosed for further research. CareerStint outlines the job description and average salary of a histotechnologist.
A histotechnician (HT) and a histotechnologist (HTL) is not the same. The latter is a higher post than the former. An Associate’s degree with a certification is sufficient for an HT, but to be an HTL, you need a Bachelor’s degree.
A histotechnologist functions as an assistant to the pathologist. He/she will be working in the histology department, which is a part of the pathology process. He is responsible for preparing slides, examining them, and documenting data for further diagnosis.
He performs a variety of lab procedures and gathers relevant information. The job demands extreme attention to detail, and requires high level of responsibility. Some of the job duties and salary details of a histotechnologist are enumerated in the paragraphs below.
- The job responsibilities of a histotechnologist are plentiful; while it is easy to summarize the same as preparing slides for observation, the actual task encompasses a whole lot of other duties.
- He has to perform histochemical techniques on a variety of tissues, this involves different procedures, like frozen section technique, processing, etc., as well as conduct tests on a variety of cell samples.
- A tissue sample is not directly examined under the microscope, it goes through a few procedures prior to testing and observation.
- It is trimmed, fixated, sliced, and stained to make the observation of the cells easier. The procedure is elaborated below.
- Apart from this process, a histotechnologist is responsible for pre-screening different samples, collecting different specimens from hospital labs, and performing routine tests.
- He is responsible for the proper tissue treatment, making sure it meets the necessary requirements before it reaches the pathologist.
- In fact, he can also study slides and make appropriate observations for further research.
- He is responsible for creating all the different stains and dyes and antibodies required for the tissue sampling process.
- He operates all the computerized equipment and records accurate data entries.
- He is also responsible for keeping the laboratory as clean and hygienic as possible, assisting junior staff, directing them accordingly, implementing and teaching them the various laboratory procedures, etc.
- Other duties include keeping track of whether the right tissue sample is assigned to the right pathologist, sterilizing equipment, etc.
Tissue Sampling Process
- The tissue sample is trimmed and grossed to a specific size.
- Technically, this process is called ‘grossing the specimen’.
- After this, the resultant specimens go through a preservation process, called ‘fixation’.
- This is done by placing them in certain solutions.
- Paraffin wax is heated and melted and placed on the tissue specimen, after clearing it off water.
- This wax spreads throughout the tissue and supports it during the process of slicing.
- This refers to the process of slicing the tissue into wafer-thin slices.
- Before going in for the slicing process, the specimen is placed in a large wax block for support.
- The tissue is mounted on to the microtome.
- A sharp knife is used to slice sections of the tissue that is embedded in the wax block.
- The slices are allowed to float in warm water to soften them.
- These specimens are stored for further analysis.
- This process involves testing the tissue specimens with different chemicals.
- The components of the tissue are brought in contact with chemicals and allowed to change colors.
- Different antibodies are used in a technique called immunohistochemistry in order to determine the accurate treatment for tumors.
- Bacteria and virus are identified by means of applying DNA probes.
- After this process, the final resultant sample is provided to the pathologist.
- Extreme attention to detail
- Computer skills
- Research skills
- Programming knowledge
- A relevant degree with subjects, like biology, physics, maths, computers, etc., is expected
- Two year associate degrees can be obtained, after which a certification can be obtained to be a histotechnician.
- After some experience, a bachelor-level program can be undertaken in a relevant field to become a histotechnologist.
|New Hampshire||USD 50,000|
|New Jersey||USD 55,000|
|New Mexico||USD 44,000|
|New York||USD 61,000|
|North Carolina||USD 48,000|
|North Dakota||USD 45,000|
|Rhode Island||USD 46,000|
|South Carolina||USD 50,000|
|South Dakota||USD 38,000|
|West Virginia||USD 48,000|
Source: Indeed.com as of December 10, 2014. Figures are in US Dollars.
- Most histotechnologists spend an average 8 – 9 hours in the lab, i.e., they have regular shifts and timings.
- Sometimes, however, they might be required to work extra hours.
- Ultimately, they have to spend a lot of time in the laboratory, scanning tissue samples under the microscope.
- They have to endure different odors―dyes, stains, solutions, antibodies, etc.
- They need to be extremely alert and cautious, they must be able to concentrate on very minute specimens.
- If the person likes what he is doing, he will love the laboratory atmosphere; if not, he may find it hectic and stressful.
The job of a histotechnologist is very important. Bear in mind that a small error can lead to major alteration in the expected result and may affect further diagnosis. What if the tests being carried out are very vital, like those related to anticancer drugs and the like? You need to be extremely focused on the details in order to document accurate results.