On the cutting edge and a slice above the rest – Who is a Histotechnologist?
Every March 10th, we celebrate Histotechnology Professionals Day to help raise awareness about the laboratory field of Histotechnology. Despite never meeting patients, histotechnologists play a vital healthcare role in helping patients receive the right diagnosis and care. These laboratory professionals are helping save lives one slide at a time.
But what does a histotechnologist do? To understand the profession, you must first understand Histology.
What is Histology?
Histology is the study of the microanatomy of cells, tissues, and organs as seen through a microscope.
A histotechnologist has advanced training in how and why specimens are collected and processed for testing. This expertise qualifies the histotechnologist to manage even unexpected situations in the laboratory, such as solving technical or instrument problems, understanding the underlying health and disease causes of unusual test results, and evaluating new laboratory techniques and procedures. Histotechnicians and histotechnologists must work quickly, as they are frequently under pressure to deliver results while the patient is in surgery. They are commonly referred to as “histotechs”.
What does a histotech do?
When the pathology lab receives the patient’s tissue sample, it is first examined and dissected by a pathologists’ assistant who will submit tissue samples in a fixative (usually formalin) to the Histology Lab for processing. Some histotechs are also able to gross small specimen biopsies for processing. This process includes a dictation of their “naked” eye description of the tissue which appears in the patient’s final report.
Colleen S. preparing to gross renal biopsies for processing.
Ana V. grossing biopsy specimens.
Histotechs work around the clock and play a large role in saving lives, but do it in an orderly fashion. The first step in tissue processing is to run the tissue sample through a series of alcohols to remove any water, clear the tissue in xylene and infiltrate the tissue sample in paraffin (wax material). The Histotech will then embed the tissue in melted paraffin, creating a “paraffin block”, which hardens to room temperature.
George S. loading cassettes in the tissue processor
Lori A. loading cassettes in the tissue processor.
Patrick F. embedding the tissue in cassettes.
Rachel R. embedding the tissue in cassettes.
The next step is for the paraffin blocks to be cut/sliced on a microtome, also known as microtomy, at paper-thin or less slices (measured in microns). This process will create a ribbon of tissue sections which is floated on a temperature-controlled, heated waterbath. The histotech will then pick up the tissue sections, placing them on a glass slide and routinely stained with special dyes that make the cell details visible under the microscope. The pathologist can now microscopically examine the tissue on the slide and determine if disease is present, or if it has spread, and help the clinician decide the best course of treatment for the patient.
Aparna G. cutting ribbons of tissue on microtome (microtomy).
Yana M. cutting ribbons of tissue on microtome (microtomy).
Cryotomy, a frozen section procedure to perform a rapid microscopic analysis/diagnosis of a fresh tissue sample, is also performed by a histotech. These samples are sent from the surgeon in the operating room, while the patient is still under anesthesia, allowing the pathologist to provide an immediate analysis/diagnosis to aid the surgeon on how to proceed with the surgery.
Histotechs can also perform more complex techniques such as enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy. A histotechnologist can also teach and be a supervisor in a laboratory.
LIJ Immunohistochemistry Lab: Guillermo P., Perry A., Steve M., Danielle L
Histotechs will tell you that their work is an art form. They value precision and work with knives, chemicals and glass slides, as well as fragile, delicate instruments that require careful monitoring.
While patients do not see or speak with the lab team helping behind the scenes, the connection is still very meaningful for the histotechs. They care about the production side of their work and the quality of the slides. All histotechs will tell you they treat every specimen as if it belongs to one of their own family members waiting for their test results.
Thank you to all of Northwell’s histotechnologists!
Northwell’s Kyle Nevins is a Top Five Finalist of ASCP’s 40 Under Forty. Here’s Why.
We’re proud to announce that Northwell Health’s very own Kyle Nevins was selected as a 40 Under Forty Top Five through a combination of public voting and committee selection by American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). This program recognizes members under the age of 40 for their achievements and leadership qualities that are making an impact on pathology and laboratory medicine. We have no doubt Kyle was acknowledged for her Truly Ambitious work!
Kyle’s ambition began at a young age. “As a child, I have always loved and excelled in math and science,” she stated, “After winning the school science fair in 4th grade and getting the opportunity to visit the Brookhaven National Laboratory, I was hooked and knew a path in science was for me.”
Prior to joining Northwell Health, Kyle worked as a per diem Medical Technologist with a Northwell employee, who encouraged Kyle to apply to Northwell. “I have been fortunate in my career at Northwell and have had the opportunity to work among extremely insightful and knowledgeable mentors.”
Following that advice, she joined Northwell Health in January 2016 as a QA/QC Specialist in the New Patient Testing (Point of Care) department at Core Laboratory. There, her team of 5 specialists managed the laboratory oversight for 150+ physician office labs, imaging centers, patient service centers and urgent care labs. During this time, Kyle grew in her position. She advises anyone starting off their career to, “be a sponge, take in as much insight and advice that others are willing to give to you. Everyone has something to share and teach, provided you are willing to learn and listen.”
In December 2016, Kyle’s ambitions grew stronger as she advanced to the Laboratory Supervisor position in the new Management Services Organization (MSO) group. The MSO group’s primary responsibilities relate to performing laboratory audits at the 20+ Northwell Health laboratories where they help ensure readiness for all upcoming regulatory inspections and provide laboratory management oversight and consulting services for contracted non-Northwell facilities.
Kyle has found success and growth inside of Northwell Health labs. “From creating posters for presentation at conferences such as AACC and ASCP, to helping validate and open a new Ebola testing laboratory, and participating in nationwide CAP inspections, the opportunities for growth are endless.” We are proud of Kyle’s recognition as a 40 Under Forty Top Five, and look forward to seeing how she continues to push the limits of the labs at Northwell Health.
Find your place inside Northwell Health’s labs here.
We’re breaking ground on a groundbreaking Microbiology laboratory
Northwell Health and NYC Health + Hospitals have started work on a brand new shared lab! The $47.7 million, 36,000 square-foot lab in Little Neck will primarily perform microbiology tests and will provide enhanced service levels to the physicians and patients in our community while bringing additional jobs to the city! The new lab will be the largest, nonprofit, hospital-operated lab network in the nation and will be processing over 50 million tests annually. This means enticing career opportunities for lab professionals to be the first inside this new lab!
The Microbiology lab is in an exciting phase of development. Northwell Health will be implementing cutting-edge technology in our transition to this new space. It will be the first lab in the country with two total lab automation system lines (TLS), which includes automatic specimen processing and digital imaging and to supplement classical microbiology methods, the lab uses MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. This new automated Micro equipment will be known as Kiestra.
“Having Kiestra at Little Neck Parkway will introduce a new beginning to the Microbiology World with new automation,” said Ebru Turk, Microbiology Technologist.
This new lab is just another way that Northwell Health is rising to the challenge that we’re Made for. We are actively recruiting enthusiastic and capable technologists to help us realize this project to its full potential. Explore opportunities inside this brand new, state-of-the-art facility here.
Photo: Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories is pictured on the far right.
An appointment with: Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories
Northwell Health maintains the preeminent laboratory system in New York. With a state-of-the-art Central Lab and 15 hospital-based labs, we perform 27,000,000 tests per year. The lab system is also known for its innovative technology (including the first fully robotic lab systems in the country) and exceptional growth opportunities with the construction of a new 110,000 sq. ft. general laboratory and state-of-the-art, 40,000 sq. ft. microbiology laboratory. Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories is driving much of this exciting growth. Get to know Mike and his vision for lab leadership!
How did you get into Laboratory Administration?
It was more of a career evolution. I started working in a lab, but as I learned about all the opportunities available, I decided to become more well rounded. I learned about sales by being a sales rep at Core Labs. I learned about finance and the business by working with Bob Stallone, our VP of Labs. I learned about how small, medium and large tertiary hospitals work by becoming administrative director of four of our hospital labs. I learned about project management by running projects and getting my Project Management Certification.
How did you know Northwell Health was the right career destination for you?
Northwell Health is the major player in the region. I wanted to be part of something big and I am amazed at how the system continues to grow. I can make a difference because I have been given that freedom to be innovative, take risks and move out of my comfort zone into new areas, new experiences and new ways to deliver care.
What would you tell someone who is just starting their career in this field?
Be the best at what you are doing, whether you’re a lab tech, accountant, environmental worker, nurse, client services, billing rep, etc. Be the best at whatever you do and this will lead to the next challenge. Then, be the best at that.
What characteristics make a great leader at Northwell Health?
A great leader creates and communicates the vision to the organization. Great leaders surround themselves with great people because they know they can’t be successful alone.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to move into leadership?
Get to know the leaders you admire and respect and let them know where you want to be. You must show interest or you will be overlooked! If you show interest and have the ability, you will get noticed and excel.
How does Northwell Health encourage its employees to progress in their fields?
It’s important to be able to follow a clear map so you know where to go and the steps it takes to get there. Northwell Health Labs has formal career ladders to guide staff and help them reach their goals.
What would you tell an employee who is interested in being a mentor?
If you’re a mentor, be a resource, a teacher and a guide. Do not try to change the person. Let them be who they are and put their own creativity and spin on it. The role of a mentor is to be a guide and resource and help make a better leader than you were. That’s the goal – I want to help someone be better than me.
What exciting developments are happening at Northwell Health’s labs?
For me, it’s the opening of our new Labs at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Little Neck. These two new state of the art labs will be a combined 140,000 square feet. It is a culmination of our growth over the last 20 years. It gives us the ability to perform 5-6 times our current volume.
What can someone expect working at one of the nation’s largest laboratory systems, that they won’t find anywhere else?
When you combine our size with our culture of innovation and excellence, you’ll find opportunity that you can’t find anywhere else. If you have talent, drive and the desire to succeed, you will be successful here.
What’s the single biggest reason to work at Northwell Health labs?
You will be part of the best, most forward thinking health system lab in the country. You will get out of the “basement” and deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to change behavior of patients and providers to improve care and reduce cost.
At Northwell Health our laboratory professionals push boundaries to go that extra mile.
“Northwell Health has the best laboratory teams in the state of New York. They provide you with lots of opportunities to flourish and grow.”
–Munazza Naseem, Pathologist Assistant, Northwell Health Laboratories
Northwell Health leads with innovation and breaks with convention. We continually look to advance our laboratories. The greatest component of delivering exceptional laboratory services begins with our employees. We will provide you with the opportunity to spread your wings and define your healthcare career.
During Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, we honor those whose clinical expertise and compassionate commitment to excellence drive our exceptional care forward. Our people are inspired by the knowledge that behind every test and every procedure is a person who deserves our best at all times.
Throughout the week, we’re showing appreciation for our medical laboratory professionals with hot breakfast buffets, ice cream, games, and more. Our employees also celebrate by finding unique ways to give back to the community through events like a charity ZUMBA class and paint nights. To add an extra element of fun during this special week, employees wear their favorite team jerseys. These are just some ways that we are recognizing the contributions and impact that laboratory professionals have at Northwell Health.
Northwell Health is where the talent, expertise and knowledge of our laboratory professionals impacts our patients’ lives and contributes significantly to improving healthcare outcomes. Soon, we’ll make an even greater impact on our patient care. By 2018, our centralized laboratory we will be the largest hospital-based integrated laboratory in the country performing over 55 million lab tests annually. This translates into tremendous growth opportunities.
“When you work in a Northwell Health laboratory, you know you are connected with other lab professionals who are there to help one another.”
–Young Choi, Lead Medical Technologist, Lenox Hill Greenwich Village
“Northwell Health gives me endless opportunities to expand and improve upon my skills, abilities and knowledge that I can then use to benefit the patients and communities we serve.”
–John Shao, Medical Technologist, Northern Westchester Hospital
We know the value of providing our employees with the right culture to develop their professional goals.
When it comes to your career, the right work environment is what makes the difference.
Make a difference, behind the scenes.
As a laboratory professional, you know that your contributions matter. Northwell Health is a healthcare provider that strives to enhance quality patient outcomes by continually assessing how health care is provided. The vision of our laboratory service line is exactly how we achieve our mission and goals.
Your expertise and knowledge will touch our patients’ lives and contribute significantly to our integrated healthcare team. By 2018, we will be the largest hospital-based integrated laboratory in the country performing over 55 million lab tests annually.
“Every specimen is a life to us. So even though we’re behind the scenes, everyone in the lab is valued as a highly skilled, dedicated member of the healthcare team.”
— Donna Manchisi, Director of Lab Marketing and Education
Advance your career, your way.
At Northwell Health, we are committed to helping our employees define and pursue the career path that is right for them. If you have a passion for management, we’ll provide the resources and support to help get you there.
If you want to remain in a hands-on technology role, we will provide you with the continuing education you need to enhance your skills.
We have the opportunity, and with a growth rate of 20% per year, the question isn’t how you’ll grow, it’s when will you start.
Come and join our team. Experience it for yourself.
With 16 hospital labs and our centralized state-of-the art laboratory, we have positions on Long Island, the five boroughs and Westchester – your career is calling.
What do you need to be successful?
To succeed as a laboratory professional at Northwell Health, you need passion, drive and the ability to see the bigger picture. Our standards are high, for patient care, and for the employees who justify our mission. You have to be able to multitask and be extremely organized and detail-oriented. You must be a strong team player, but also able to work independently.
“We’re looking for people with passion, people who go above and beyond while always putting the patient first. We want people who understand that there’s a person on the other side of the tube.”
It is the policy of Northwell Health to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all employees equally regardless of age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, generic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, or other characteristics protected by applicable law. Northwell Health leaders, including the CEO, are committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action.