By M. Petra Daher
Do you know what a Histotechnician does? Histology is the microscopic study of diseased tissue. Histotechnicians work under the supervision of a Pathologist to prepare tissue specimens for diagnosis. They prepare microscope slides of human and animal tissue to be studied by a doctor or scientist. The specimens Histotechnologist and Forensic Pathologists works with are obtained from autopsies, biopsies or surgeries.
The Capital Area Career Center located in Mason, Michigan, offers a 2-year nationally certified Histotechnology program and students get Lansing Community College credit after successful completion of this program requirments. Histotechnology is an in demand career field that pays well. There are job openings around the country. Successful completion of the program requires good organizational skills and a commitment of time. The Program Director and Instructor of the program is Roger Smith is well respected by his students. Student Kayla Martin, from Leslie High School, described the Histotechnology Program as “a lot of work but very interesting.”
During the first year of the program students are trained in a wide variety of basic laboratory skills such as problem solving, medical ethics and chemical safety. Second year students are challenged to advance their histological techniques by completing several research projects throughout the year. This class is nationally certified and second year students also have the opportunity to prepare for a national exam in Histotechnology.
This school year Kayla Martin, a second year Histotechnology student, who has aspirations to be a Forensic Pathologist, had a wonderful opportunity to learn in a real world situation. She had the chance to partner with Dr. Brian Hunter, the Chief Medical Examiner from Genesee County, to witness an autopsy as part of the research for her senior thesis.
Martin met Dr. Hunter when he did a presentation in her class at the Capital Area Career Center, in Mason. After his presentation she introduced herself and said that she planned to study to be a Forensic Pathologist after completion of the program. When Martin decided that she wanted to watch a doctor perform an autopsy as part of her senior thesis, Dr. Hunter offered to let her observe an autopsy. Martin said she was honored because, “ he’s such a busy man and he made time for me!”
Dr. Hunter also provided a human sample from a closed case public records file of an eight-year-old boy who died from an Aneurism. Martin was able to use the sample for her Senior Thesis Project, which was to research the Histology of brain aneurisms in children. The human sample allowed Martin to view the difference between how healthy and unhealthy tissue looks. Martin added that, “ brain aneurisms in children are rare but do happen.”
Martin commented that,“ working with Dr. Hunter made me more excited about getting into Forensic Pathology. It was cool to see what I hope to be doing professionally in 15 years.” A major component of Career and Technical Education is creating Job Shadowing and hands-on learning opportunities for students. This is a great example of a partnership between the Capital Area Career Center Histotechnology Program and the professional community. Martin added, “ When people think of pathologist, they imagine someone with no sense of humor who spends his days working with dead people. Dr. Hunter is a fun man and he showed me that the field of Forensic Pathology doesn’t have to be boring!” After completing the Histotechnology Program at the Capital Area Career Center this school year, Kayla Martin plans to attend Ferris State University and study Forensic Biology.