Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Need For Greater Education of Medical Scientists in Histopathology Laboratories

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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