Advice from a Histology Student

By: Jenny Pedersen

I am excited to share with my fellow NSH members that I have been chosen as the Irwin S. Learner Student Scholarship recipient for 2019 sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific! I am truly honored and grateful to have been selected, and I would like to share my story of why I chose histology as my career path in the hopes that others may benefit from my experiences.

I am currently employed at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, as a histotechnician. Eskenazi Health is a Level I trauma center, one of only four in the state of Indiana with just over 300 beds and a state-of-the-art burn center. I was initially hired three years ago in a clerical position in the pathology department and part of my job description was to assist the busy histology department with accessioning specimens. Working closely with the histotechs and specimen processing captured my attention and I began to consider the possibility of becoming a histotechnician myself. I loved my transcription job at Eskenazi Health in the pathology department, but I wanted something more. With the support of my lead histotechnician and the management team, I explored the possibility of this becoming a reality with the Program Director at Indiana University School of Medicine Histotechnology Program, Debra Wood.

This program provides a very well-rounded education that is affordable and very manageable with a full-time job. The histotechnology portion of this degree program is offered online which enables me to continue working full-time. It was the support of my co-workers and managers, the top-quality education offered through Indiana University School of Medicine with their willingness to accept my previous college credit in transfer, and the ability to complete the last few classes I needed online that sold me on my decision: I wanted to pursue histotechnology as my new career path!

I will apply to take the Histotechnician Certification Examination through ASCP this month and take the exam hopefully in May 2019. Meanwhile, I am finishing up my Associate’s Degree in Histotechnology at Indiana University School of Medicine. My future goal is to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and transition into a leadership role. With this very generous Thermo Fisher Scientific sponsored student scholarship, I will be able to utilize those funds for tuition, books, exam fees, and even attend some of the NSH sponsored symposiums.

It’s important to note that you are never too old to learn something new, and for new high school graduates the field of histotechnology offers an exciting, rewarding career choice that continues to flourish.

What advice do you have for other students who are interested in histology?

The best way to see what histology really entails is to watch how the specimen is processed from the time it is removed from the patient until the time it is placed on a slide and reviewed by the pathologist. The process is fascinating and arranging a visit to a histology lab would be ideal. However, if that is not possible there are many videos online that explain what histology is, how tissues are processed, how tissues are placed on a slide, what the pathologist is looking for when he/she reviews the slide, etc.

Prospective students should review the histotechnology program offered at the university level, contact them, and request more information. There is a wealth of information out there regarding the field of histology and becoming a histotechnician as it is still a thriving career choice with employment opportunities in hospital laboratories, independent laboratories, research facilities, and even in veterinary labs.

What advice do you have for other students interested in applying for scholarships?

Whether you are a high school student or a seasoned employee returning to college to pursue new dreams, I encourage you to always have an up-to-date resume available.

As a high school student, you may think that you have nothing to put on a resume. Everything you have accomplished in high school matters including part-time summer jobs, awards, extracurricular activities, etc. Having an up-to-date resume will be a good first step in applying for scholarships. Scholarship sponsor review committees want to see what you have been doing and what you want to do in the future. A strong resume and well written letter of intent that stands out among the other applicants is the first step in applying for scholarships. Colleges and universities are an excellent resource for finding scholarships as well as societies and organizations in the field of histology such as NSH. As a member of NSH, I received an email from Natalie Paskoski, Project Coordinator at NSH, notifying me of my eligibility to apply for a scholarship as well as the steps in the application process. Her personal attention in assisting members by keeping them informed is invaluable.

I did not think I had a chance at being chosen for the student scholarship, but you never know until you try!

NSH is now accepting applications for professional scholarships. Visit https://www.nsh.org/learn/scholarships to learn more!

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