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Curriculum

Histology technician preparing microscope slide

Student experiences

Classroom learning

Most of the classroom curriculum is delivered online and is completed as homework. Instruction includes text, videos, images, simulation, interactions, and other online applications. Students must complete the online units of instruction, quizzes, and pre-lab work prior to coming to class.

Synchronous classroom and microscope sessions complement the online education. These sessions provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, review material with program faculty and confirm their understanding of the curriculum. Students connect via virtual classroom for these sessions.

Laboratory sessions

Laboratory sessions are administered in the traditional face-to-face format. Students apply the online material during hands-on, instructor-facilitated sessions. These activities occur on campus.

Hands-on clinical rotations

Throughout the nine-month program, clinical experience with patient material is provided in the form of demonstrations, investigation, and hands-on clinical rotations. Students practice various histologic techniques under the supervision of program faculty and laboratory clinical instructors. These activities also occur on campus.

Facilities and faculty

Facilities

Mayo Clinic's histology technician training facilities were designed specifically for the program and are in close proximity to the histology-based laboratories. The facilities provide an excellent training environment, and each area has state-of-the-art equipment.

Faculty

Teaching faculty

The Histology Technician Program is coordinated and taught by the clinical, scientific, and technical staffs of Mayo Clinic. Faculty members are chosen for their commitment to teaching, as well as clinical practice and research. Many have published and lectured extensively and are highly regarded in their fields.

Students have direct access to these individuals throughout their training. This gives students the opportunity to learn directly from some of today's best histology practitioners.

Current teaching faculty includes:

Michelle A. Nelsen, M.S., HTL(ASCP)CM

Michelle Nelsen graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1998 with a B.S. in Biomedical Science. She began her career in the field of histotechnology in 1999. She was certified as a Histology Technician (HT) in 2000 and a Histotechnologist (HTL) in 2004. In 2012, Ms. Nelsen completed her master’s degree in education specializing in postsecondary and adult education from Capella University. She has academic rank within Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science as an Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

Ms. Nelsen has been with the MCSHS Histology Technician Program as a faculty member since its inception in 2006 and was named Program Director in 2010. She is currently responsible for oversight of the program/students and instruction of a large portion of the curriculum. Her other responsibilities include providing continuing education to allied health staff within the division of Anatomic Pathology, resident training, and mentoring clinical lab staff. She is active in the Minnesota Society for Histotechnology (MSH) as a past treasurer and current board member of the society. Ms. Nelsen is also a member of the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) Review Committee for Accredited Programs (RCAP), and a previous consultant for the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Histotechnology Examination committee.

Kelly Klein, M.S., HTL(ASCP)CM

Kelly Klein graduated from Upper Iowa University in 2001 with a B.S. in Sports Science. In 2010, she graduated from the MCSHS Histology Technician Program, obtained her HT certification, and gained employment as a histology technician within the histology lab at Mayo Clinic. In 2019, Ms. Klein completed her master's degree in higher education, integrative studies from Capella University. She also has academic rank within Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science as an Instructor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

In 2015, Ms. Klein joined the Histology Technician Program as a core faculty member. Previously she was a clinical instructor for the Histology Technician program in gross cutting and frozen sectioning, as well as a mentor for students and a trainer for new employees within the histology lab. In 2019, she was named Associate Program Director. Her primary responsibilities within the program are to serve as a resource for students to prepare for exams and strengthen their understanding of the curriculum, work with students in the student laboratory to help them develop a strong foundation of technical skills, and assist the program director in overall program management.

Tien Tran, B.S., HT(ASCP)CM

Tien Tran graduated from Michigan State University in 2000 with a B.S. in Inter-Discipline Health Care Administration. She holds academic rank within Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science as an Instructor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Ms. Tran began her career in health care as a Trainer Coordinator for Ingham Community Mental Health in Lansing, Michigan. There she was responsible for developing and implementing personal goals for people with mental disabilities as well as teaching and training staff on new procedures. In 2007, she completed the Mayo Clinic - University of North Dakota Histotechnology Program and became a certified Histology Technician (HT). Soon after that she began training new employees and students within the histology laboratory at Mayo Clinic as a clinical instructor.

In 2010, Ms. Tran was hired as Education Specialist I within the division of anatomic pathology and became a core faculty member of the MCSHS Histology Technician Program. Her responsibilities within the Histology Technician Program focus on teaching the technical aspects of histology and monitoring student skill set development throughout the program. She also supports the division of Anatomic Pathology in developing, implementing, and facilitating continuing education for allied health staff, residents, fellow, and consultants, and organizing orientation training sessions for new residents and employees.

Clinical instructors

Each of our clinical laboratories on all three campuses has dedicated clinical instructors who participate in the education of the students. They are board-certified histology technicians and technologists with a wealth of experience in the field of histotechnology.

Hours

Program hours vary depending on what portion of the curriculum is being taught. For most of the classroom instruction and clinical rotations, the learning schedule includes eight-hour days, Monday through Friday.

At the Rochester, Minnesota, campus, students must be available from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for classroom, laboratory, and clinical instruction. At the Scottsdale, Arizona campus, students must be available from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. At the Jacksonville, Florida campus, students must be available from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students are not on campus 12 hours a day, but they must be available during these hours for a variety of learning opportunities. On average, one to three hours of homework is assigned each day.

Outside work

Students may hold outside employment during the program if it does not conflict with their program responsibilities. It is highly recommended that students work no more than 20 hours a week.

Course sequence

Semester 1

Course Credits

Histological Techniques I

This course introduces the fundamental safety practices and instrumentation used in the routine histology laboratory and provides knowledge and skills in the histological techniques of tissue collection, accessioning, grossing, decalcification, and fixation. This course focuses on quality and recognizing errors within completed materials.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and hands-on experiential learning opportunities within the laboratory environment.

4

Histological Techniques II

This course introduces the knowledge and skills in the histological techniques of processing, embedding, microtomy, frozen sectioning, nuclear and cytoplasmic staining, and laboratory math. The course focuses on quality and recognizing errors within completed materials.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and hands-on experiential learning opportunities within the laboratory environment.

5

Microanatomy I

This course provides a comprehensive analysis of the microscopic structure of human anatomy. It focuses on the basic function and microscopic arrangement of healthy human cells, tissues, and organs.

Topics include epithelium, connective tissue and muscle, bone and cartilage, integumentary, female and male reproductive, the GI tract and accessory organs (liver, pancreas, and gallbladder), circulatory, nervous, immune, respiratory and urinary systems.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and interactive virtual microscope sessions.

2

Professional Development I

This interprofessional course facilitates the development of skills necessary for positive professional behavior and effective communication in a health care setting by exploring topics such as communication and feedback; conflict resolution; culture of safety, diversity and inclusion; and strategies for creating a professional persona. Students analyze current practices pertinent to quality patient care to grow as a health care professional.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and interactive virtual classroom opportunities to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of professionalism.

1

Semester 2

Course Credits

Histochemical Staining

This course introduces the fundamental practices of histochemical staining. It provides knowledge and skills in the staining techniques of carbohydrates and amyloid, connective tissue and muscle, nerve, microorganisms, and pigments, minerals, and cytoplasmic granules.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and hands-on experiential learning opportunities within the laboratory environment.

3

Histology Clinical Rotation

This course provides the opportunity to strengthen technical skills and develop entry-level competency in the areas of small biopsy grossing, embedding, frozen sectioning, and microtomy. Technical skills and troubleshooting ability are expanded upon, and emphasis is placed on quality, productivity, teamwork, and professionalism in the workplace.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and hands-on experiential learning opportunities within the laboratory environment.

4

Microanatomy II

This course reviews the basic function and microscopic arrangement of healthy human cells, tissues, and organs. It then expands upon this knowledge by exploring the pathology of related disease states and the impact of routine histology procedures on the microscopic quality of patient samples.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and interactive virtual microscope sessions.

2

Professional Development II

This interprofessional course is a continuation of the Professional Development I course. It provides an opportunity for the student to further develop professional behaviors, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and build upon the skills necessary to function effectively as a professional in the laboratory and health care setting. Students analyze current practices to enhance their skills and progress toward becoming a professional.

Topics explored within this course include teamwork, practicing positivity, emotional intelligence, career growth and development, health care management, and the research process.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and interactive virtual classroom opportunities to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of professionalism.

1

Histology Enrichment

This course introduces the fundamental theory and practices of special studies in histotechnology, to include immunohistochemistry, enzyme histochemistry, cytology preparation, electron microscopy, and digital pathology.

It also serves as a review course in preparation for the national ASCP board of certification exam.

Curriculum is delivered through online learning modules and hands-on experiential learning opportunities within the laboratory environment.

2

Grading and evaluation 

Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences uses these evaluative tools: online quizzes and examinations, online self-assessment exercises, lab and clinical activities, investigative projects and assignments, competency assessment and demonstration of skills, faculty reviews and affective-behavior evaluation.

Mayo's system of evaluation provides students and faculty with a comprehensive look at individual performance. This allows faculty and administrative staff to direct students who are experiencing academic difficulty to the appropriate support resources, including tutoring programs and counseling opportunities. A competency-based evaluation system is used to assess clinical performance.

Competency-based evaluation system

Program competencies

Professional knowledge (cognitive): Critically examine the foundational concepts, theories, and frameworks of histology; Troubleshoot errors in histology through systematic reasoning and problem resolution: Correlate tissue identification with function and related pathology; Analyze tissue structures for quality based on histological technique and staining method; Describe the principles of electron microscopy, enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry and cytology preparation.

Professional skills (psychomotor): Practice the principles of safety within the laboratory setting; Demonstrate the ability to manipulate the tools appropriate for histotechnology; Master entry-level technical aptitude in all routine histological procedures; Evaluate problems for source, cause and potential resolution; Apply quality assurance measures to histology processes and procedures; Assess the quality of patient samples for accuracy and precision; and Demonstrate efficiency and timely completion of assigned responsibilities.

Professional attitudes, behaviors, and cultural competencies (affective): Practice professional conduct and interpersonal communication skills; Demonstrate the ethical role and responsibilities of a professional histology technician; Practice critical thinking through sound judgment and decision-making; Develop professional skills as a function of personal growth; and Practice respect and concern for patient well-being (the needs of the patient come first).

Graduation and certification

Upon completion of the Histology Technician Program, graduates receive a certificate of completion from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences and are eligible to take the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification examination to become a nationally certified histology technician or histotechnologist. Issuing of the certificate is not contingent upon passing the board of certification exam.

An option also exists in Minnesota to gain an Associate of Science Histology Technician degree through a partnership with Rochester Community and Technical College.