Photo by: Tom Witta,

All in a Day's Work: Ian Young, a Histotechnologist in the Anatomic Pathology Department at Hennepin County Medical Center

  • Article by: Nancy Crotti
  • Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • August 26, 2009 - 9:29 AM

Q: What's a typical workday like for you?

I work with six histotechnicians to prepare tissue from biopsies for examination by a pathologist. We rotate jobs weekly, so depending on the week, I will work with pathologists' assistants; maintain machinery that processes tissue; apply special stains to tissue samples to detect bacteria or certain types of fiber; work with tissue from autopsies or hospital research; apply stains containing antibodies to detect disease in tissue; work on kidney biopsies; or float among the jobs, depending on where I'm needed.

Q: How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?

Histotechnicians and histotechnologists enable physicians to examine tissue from a biopsy and figure out what's wrong with a patient. We also work quickly so physicians can get the diagnosis out right away.

Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?

I interact with hospital pathologists and pathologists' assistants; surgeons and surgery nurses; other laboratory workers; medical examiner technicians, investigators and pathologists; vendors; and outside institutions who send us renal work.

Q: Why did you become a histotechnologist?

I took a histology course in college. One day the professor offered to show us how to make slides and stains on tissues and I thought, "Oh, my gosh. It never occurred to me that it was so complex to get a piece of tissue on a slide." I got my bachelor's degree in biology and went to Argosy University for a two-year degree in histology.

Q: What do you like about your work?

I definitely like the interaction. I get to talk to all these doctors. My thing is special stains. I love dealing with all the different colors. There's lots of chemistry and mixing things. The cases that come in are extremely interesting.

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