People who work in histology laboratories are called histotechnicans, histotechnologists, or histology technicians. These people prepare the samples for analysis. Histopathologists, also known as pathologists, study and analyze the samples.
The technician will use special skills to process samples of biological tissues. The tissues may come from:
- patients seeking a diagnosis
- suspects in a crime, if it is a forensic lab
- the body of a person who has died
The process involves:
- trimming samples and applying solutions to preserve them
- removing any water, replacing it with paraffin wax, and putting the sample in a wax block to make it easier to slice
- slicing the tissue thinly and mounting the slices on slides
- applying stains to make specific parts visible
Next, a histopathologist examines the cells and tissues and interprets what they see. Others can use the histopathologist’s findings to decide on the best course of treatment or help determine how a death, illness, or crime occurred.
To become a histotechnologist in the United States, a person needs certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. They can start by taking a degree that includes math, biology, and chemistry, then getting onsite experience. Or, a person can attend an accredited histology program. Higher qualifications are also available.
To become a pathologist, a person usually needs a degree from a medical school, which takes 4 years to complete, plus 3–7 years of internship and residency programs.