Over the weekend, I’ve gotten more than a few questions from people asking me what exactly do I do in my new job. Some people seem to think I’m a doctor, some people seem to think that I’m some data entry guy. So I thought I might as well put it down in layman terms and clear up some of things about what I do.
I work in a pathology laboratory. What pathology labs do is analyse all the samples and specimens that doctors take from patients in order to find out or confirm their diagnosis. It is quite important because over 70% of all diagnosis rely on the results that come from the path labs. So it’s pretty important to make sure you get things right the first time, especially the name and date of birth because we don’t want the wrong test results going to the wrong person. That would be a disaster in the most epic proportions.
My role in all this is to work the Histology department. I basically deal with the stuff that comes out of your body after surgery. Whether it be pieces of skin with a mole or a whole uterus, my job is to record the data to make sure the names on the specimen jars matches those on the request forms, and then start cutting the specimen tissues up, preparing them to be further cut into slides so that the head pathologist can take a look at them. Basically I dictate and jot down what I see onto tape and the request form, while cutting the specimens into significant areas as so other people in the histology department will know where to look at.
It can be a very tedious job, especially since my working hours are in the evening once all the specimens from surgery have come in. You have to be meticulous in making sure you got the right specimens from the right people. This is one of the only 2 jobs where there is no room for error. If there was any need for a perfectionist, this would be the time for it. Then again, I do come with a fair bit of obsessive compulsive behaviour and a touch of a perfectionist. I also I grew up with a dissection kit of my own, so there is a fair bit of experience there when it comes to cutting things that have come out of living beings. So it’s like I was made for this kind of work. It should technically be all good there, even though it scares the hell out of me that I have to put my sense of perfection to the test.
At the same time, histology is one of the stepping stones to working with cancer, which I’ve been pursuing for most of my life. Most of the stuff that gets sent in are biopsies that need to be some diagnosis on whether or not they are malignant tumours (cancer) or just simply benign ones. It does give me a head start in learning all that I can about how to tell them apart. Working hands on, gives me that edge. At least, that’s what I got from the time I’ve been in it so far.
So that’s where I work at and what I do. A medical scientist in a pathology lab working on histological samples. I’m pretty sure eventually I get moved to other roles since they do want to have their scientists well versed in all the departments, but the idea that I get paid to do what I’ve always loved doing. I think you must be pretty tired of hearing that by now since I’ve only been saying that for the whole week. But hey, it beats listening to me mope and be melancholic about things, and you’ve learned something new today.
That’s always a good thing, no?