The Need For Greater Education of Medical Scientists in Histopathology Laboratories

06 Mar

Hello again

This is my second post and I want to thank all that read and commented on my first post. As you can tell from the title I am an advocate for the ongoing job-specific training of medical / biomedical scientists in pathology and in particular histopathology (as this is the area of which I am involved).

By “job-specific” I really do mean that. My experience with ongoing education of medical scientists within many laboratories involves mainly attending conferences which in fact do provide presentations on many interesting and varying medical subjects but do not translate into increased knowledge within the pathology sector that they are employed. Yet attendance at these conferences do fulfill the “ongoing education” condition of governing accreditation bodies. For example a conference attended by this author attended by many medical scientists of employed over all the different disciplines (eg. histology, microbiology, haematology), had many interesting talks (eg. the effect of a local major natural disaster and the providing of medical assistance from neighbouring countries), but he could not see how these talks would translate to increased laboratory knowledge beneficial to the conference attendee.

It appears to this author that there is very limited opportunities offered to pathology laboratory employees which in turn is resulting in these employees not possessing an ever-growing knowledge base of their chosen discipline. Another example observed by this author is the huge majority of histopathology scientists not being able to recognise the simplest of skin tumours histologically (eg. BCC, SCC, melanoma), which is the ‘bread and butter’ of skin pathology.

What is the purpose of scientists being able to recognise tumours histologically I hear you say? If scientists can recognise these simplest of tumours, this talent can be put to a number of uses including cutting deeper levels on initial sections that are non-diagnostic before the initial sections are given to the pathologist thus increasing the efficiency of reporting. This example of course depends on the confidence of the pathologist to trust the scientist to recognise a case that requires deeper levels.

Thank you very much for reading this post and hopefully you found it of interest.

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2 responses to “The Need For Greater Education of Medical Scientists in Histopathology Laboratories

  1. Naomi

    March 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I am really surprised to hear that you feel that the “majority” of biomedical scientists in histopathology cannot recognise a BCC. In my experience in the UK, this kind of extremely basic pathology (and indeed higher) is taught routinely at MSc level, and therefore any other than basic grade scientists would find this elementary.
    I myself have an MSc in Histopathology, for which our examination was composed in part of questions from the MRCPath examination that medically qualified histopathologists are required to sit.
    I would agree that this is essential to my profession.

    • skinpathonline

      March 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

      Thanks for your comment.

      The “majority” of scientists I mentioned relate to the majority of scientists I have personally encountered. I have to mention that I have no experience within the UK but do have European experience. What I was trying to get across was the lack of continuing education for medical scientists that contributes to and expands their job specific knowledge. Especially if the scientist can know what the pathologist needs for diagnosis and give it to him/her at the one time as opposed giving them, for example, non-diagnostic initial levels then having to request further deeper sections. This obviously can’t be done on every occasion, such as a case than needs immunohistochemistry.

      Many thanks for you comment again and I think you would agree that most medical scientists would welcome any further education that would add to their base knowledge.


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