[Histonet] Histology Stories

Bernice Frederick b-frederick <@t> northwestern.edu
Thu Mar 11 10:09:37 CST 2010

Makes my story kind of dull!
I was in college in nursing then went to Allied Health (MT, more or less)
but had no idea histo existed until I got to this point. I thought it was
more interesting than running blood and urine samples and went for it. Histo
school and then the HTL. That was 26 years ago (eek). I worked most of my
years in a hospital setting, now I work in a core lab and we do animal
translational studies for researchers here at NU as well as being the
reference lab for ECOG, who are one of the biggest cooperative groups in the
country running cancer clinical trials. We get all the blocks and or slides
for these trials here at NU from the US as well as other countries. Makes
for a varied and interesting job.
And yes, I do remember the days of regular knives and making up my own

Bernice Frederick HTL (ASCP)
Northwestern University
Pathology Core Facility
710 N Fairbanks Court
Olson 8-421
Chicago,IL 60611

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Green
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:37 AM
To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: [Histonet] Histology Stories

I am really enjoying reading these "start-up" stories.  :o)  If you don't
mind indulging me, I'll share mine too!

I had just graduated from college with a BS in Biology when I landed a job
as a cancer research assistant.  Well, it turns out that portion of lab just
wasn't for me!  I left that department and worked in another area of the
lab.  Then the histotech quit.  They looked at me, said "you have a degree,
you can do this".  I had no idea what histology was other than looking at
the cells under the microscope!  They had no problem with that and they set
about teaching me how to use the equipment.  I had no theory, no
understanding of *why* I was doing any of what I was doing, I just learned
the practical side histology: process, embed, cut, stain.  I learned how to
cut with my knees in a cupboard (they didn't have a proper desk for me) and
not with forceps or brushes, but with chop sticks!  You see, the first
person to introduce me to Histology was a graduate student, from Japan, who
was doing an internship at our facility.  :o)

I stayed at that position for about 1.5 years, but absolutely had to leave
it because I developed a very severe allergy and asthma to the rats we were
doing our research on.  I was offered a position in (what was then) the
largest private lab in MI.  My true mentor, Glenda, taught me anything and
everything I know about Histology.  She helped me study for the HT exam,
spending countless hours of her own time helping me learn.  Thanks to her, I
passed the HT the first time around!  Later, she assisted me in studying for
the HTL exam which I also passed!  Had it not been for her kindness and
guidance, I'm not so sure I would have succeeded.  :o)  THANKS GLENDA!!
Glenda had no formal education after high school - everything she learned
was via on the job training.  I will say, she learned very, very well!  :o)
So much so that she now has a QIHC after her name.

And now where are we?  I am trying to figure out just how to have our very
own Histotech school here at my hospital.  We are affiliated with another
school (with me as the mentor), but I am thinking it would be nice to run
our own.  See?  What goes around, comes around!

It's amazing just how far we have come!  From stropping our own knifes, to
disposible ones; from maintaining our (and in some cases, making new parts!)
microtomes to having maintenance free ones; from all the manual staining to
the automated;  and now microwave technology for the processing.  Yes,
indeedy, we sure have evolved!  Gone are the days of grabbing someone from
the lab and saying "you can be a histotech"!!  We have to be formally
educated now!  :o)

I love my job!

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