Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tissue Bank and Autopsy Rotations

Life has been pretty busy since I finished my last rotation and started the next one. I’ve moved back to Morgantown for the next 6 weeks, created a CV and started looking for jobs, prepared a 30 minute presentation for this Friday, and our monthly test is coming up so I’ve been increasing my study time.

Tissue Bank Rotation:
From February 10-14th I was at the University of Pittsburgh HSC Tissue Bank (located in UPMC Shadyside Hospital).  Tissue banks serve as reservoirs of tissue/samples for researchers to use. These samples can come in the form of tissues from certain organs, tumor cells, blood, etc.  A researcher may want to use these samples to test out new therapies, perform molecular studies, or track specific data.

The employees of the tissue bank act as “honest brokers” between the researcher and the patient/sample collected. They de-identify the patient’s tissue and assign it an anonymous number; therefore the researcher never has patient information on the tissue that they’re working on.

A researcher can’t just take any and every tissue they want; they have to have approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) first.  The IRB is a committee that monitors biomedical and behavioral research involving humans and serves to protect patient rights and minimize risk. In addition to IRB approval, some sample types (ex-blood) require consent from the patient as well.  Therefore the patient can be reassured that their diagnosis and care comes before any research.

How does all this apply to Pathologists’ Assistants? Pathologists' Assisstants can work for and manage tissue banks. Also it’s great to have knowledge of tissue banking procedures so that when working in the surgical gross room, you will know what to do with a bankable specimen if it comes across your grossing bench.

This is a really simplistic overview, but I hope it gives you an understanding of what the tissue bank entails!

WVUH Autopsy Rotation:

This past week I started my new rotation at the WVUH autopsy suite. It wasn’t too busy this week, which was great because it allowed myself and the other student to dive right in and start eviscerating.  It has been a big change going from surgical pathology to autopsy pathology. Not everything has to be “museum perfect” for autopsy pathology.  I don’t know how many times I was told this week to stop using the surgeon tools and pick up the long butcher knife (don’t worry I’m not hacking away at things as much as this statement makes it seem).  I’m slowly but surely getting a little less awkward with the tools, recovering my anatomy knowledge, and becoming more comfortable with eviscerating.  

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