Employee Spotlight | Joan The Joyful Histotech

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The lab at Sanova Dermatology is crucial for day-to-day activities, whether it be Mohs Surgery or daily biopsies. It takes a very skilled and educated person to understand how to properly handle and process bodily tissue. Joan is a treasure in the office, as she has many years of experience in various labs and medical fields. Not only is she gifted in lab technologies, she is also known for her incredible baking skills and her fun-loving attitude. She is definitely cherished, and you should take the time to get to know a bit more about Sanova Dermatology’s hidden gem!

 What is your favorite part of working at Sanova Dermatology?

My favorite part of working at Sanova Dermatology is my coworkers. Everyone is great to work with and that makes it fun to come to work every day.

Do you enjoy having an entire room (the lab) to yourself?

Yes! I am used to sharing a work space, so it’s nice to have my own little space. My job requires attention to some very tiny details, so the quiet working environment enables me to focus on the task at hand.

What happens in the lab?

The short answer – I process human tissue for diagnostic purposes.

The longer answer – For the biopsies that have been taken from patients; I put them thru a process that removes the water from the tissue and replaces it with wax. The tissue is then embedded in more wax and a 4 micron slice is taken and placed onto a glass slide. That slide is then stained to differentiate the parts of the cells so that a diagnosis is made.

During Mohs surgery, the known cancerous portion is removed from the patient. It is inked at the margins (for orientation), then frozen at -25 degrees. A 5 micron section is taken and stained to differentiate the parts of the cells to ensure that all the cancerous cells have been removed. If the margins (edges) are clear of cancer, the biopsy site is stitched closed. If cancer cells are seen at the margin, another section is taken to remove those cells. This is repeated until all the cancer is removed.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

 I love my job. I get to help people every day, even if they don’t really know that my job even exists.  And I like to learn about the cosmetic part of dermatology. I am fascinated by all the products and procedures available. And my coworkers are very patient in answering all my “What’s that used for?” questions.

What lab experience do you have previous to your work at Sanova Dermatology

I have worked in a lab for most of my adult life. College was everything from studying water quality in an aquatic ecology lab to vaccinating chickens in ovum. After college, I worked in labs for- a TB hospital, an STD clinic, a quality control lab for diabetic test strips, and at a large reference lab as a gross (gross anatomy) tech. 

I have been a Histotechnologist for 9 years. I started in a large hospital in southern Florida. I moved to Texas with my husband 8 years ago, and worked at a local hospital. Working in a hospital is very different. Everything that is removed from the body (from a biopsy of the lung or liver, to an amputated limb, to the raisins a 3 year old puts in their ear) must be given to pathology. It was definitely a learning experience to see all the types of tissues and learn the different techniques and stains needed to make an accurate diagnosis of different diseases, not just cancer.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy roller skating, baking and decorating cakes, and cooking. I am a HUGE hockey fan. My husband and I go to almost every Texas Stars game.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?

On any given Saturday it’s usually a backyard BBQ and pool party with my family and friends.

Any exciting vacations or plans in the near future?

Going to Schlitterbahn for my birthday!

 

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