So I thought I’d give you all a run-down on what I’m actually *doing* at Sullivan and Nicolaides. Hopefully, I can even make it somewhat comprehensible! I’ve been trying to digest everything thrown at me during my time at Sullivan and Nicolaides, and it’s a lot of material to memorize. So bear with me, and if my explanations sound a bit shaky, post a comment and ask me to clarify!
First things first: this is the actual building I work at. Impressive, no?
It is in here that I have been learning a bit about pathology, or at least that’s the idea.
So, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept of pathology, it’s basically the analysis of all those samples that your doctors take from you when you think you might be sick/pregnant/etc. So tissue samples, blood, urine, the works; all of it gets sent to a pathology lab, who perform the required tests on the samples. Sounds simple enough, right?
The lab is split up into different departments, who deal with different kinds of samples and tests. Microbiology checks the bacteria counts and types in nearly all types of samples, and also includes mycology, which deals with fungi. They mostly use microscope slides and agar plates to grow bacteria.
Histology works with actual tissue samples; biopsies and dissection bits. They embed the tissues in wax blocks, cut them very, very fine, and put them on microscope slides, stain them, and analyze them.
Then you have immunology, which deals with strictly blood and serum samples (lymph node fluid and so on). They analyze these for levels of white blood cells and antibodies. So, basically, they are checking the status of your body’s automatic defense system for immunodeficiency or infection.
Hematology deals strictly with blood, and all the different tests you can run on someone’s blood, to determine the platelet levels, red blood cell levels, clotting time, if you have leukemia, etc., etc. Most of this department is automated, with machines doing most of the sampling.
Right now, I’m in biochemistry, which uses “tagged” antibodies that attach to different cells. These tags can be radioactive, bioluminescent, or florescent. Depending on how bright something glows and what color it glows, or if it has a high level of radiation, the pathologists can tell if you have certain drugs in your blood, if you have different levels of hormones, etc. It’s very useful in testing for hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, and disorders that result in elevated levels of different types of hormones.
And that’s a (very brief and VERY simplified) summary of what I’ve been doing this whole time! Neat, isn’t it?