The best Government Job Source

Pathology Technicians
Significant Points

This series includes positions which involve technical work subordinate to the work of pathologists or other physicians (or other professional personnel) who make the final diagnostic examinations of specimens of human tissues and/or cell preparations. Technician work in histopathology involves preparing thin sections of tissue specimens including fixing, clearing, infiltrating, embedding, sectioning, staining, and amounting. Technician work in cytology involves preparing, staining, and examining microscopically specimens of body fluids, secretions, and exudations from any part of the body to determine whether cellular structure is normal, atypical, or abnormal. Positions in this series require a practical knowledge of the techniques of anatomical laboratory practice in one or both of the areas of laboratory work (i.e., histopathology and cytology) and of the chemistry, biology, and anatomy involved.

Nature of the Work

Technician positions performing work in cytology or in histopathology require markedly different knowledges and skills from those of other technician positions in the pathology service. Both cytology technicians and histopathology technicians are identified with anatomical pathology and are usually located within a separate "section" of the pathology service. They perform technical support work subordinate to a pathologist. Both require knowledges and skills in staining procedures which are closely allied and similar. However, at grades GS-4 and above each of these areas of work requires distinct and specialized knowledges.

Titles and specializations are based on the specialized areas of work within the field and represent differences in the duties, responsibilities and knowledges required for their performance.

Pathology Aid applies to positions at grades GS-1, 2, and 3 which involve more routine assignments in either the examination of cell structure (exfoliative cytology) or the preparation and examination of tissue (histopathology).

Cytology Technician applies to positions at GS-4 and above which involve preparing, staining, and examining under the microscope slide samplings of cell preparations to trace clues to disease or other abnormalities in the cell structure. The reports of the examination and the marked slides are reviewed by a pathologist.

Histopathology Technician applies to positions at GS-4 and above which involve preparation of tissue specimens for diagnostic examination by the pathologist. Most positions involve preparation of tissue specimens for light microscopic examination although a few positions may be engaged in preparing tissue specimens for electron microscopic examination and may include preliminary examination under the electron microscope subject to final examination by the pathologist.

Pathology Technician applies to positions at GS-4 and above to cover positions which involve assignments in both cytology and histopathology technician work where each kind of work performed is of the same grade level. There are very few such positions because typically assignments involve exclusively cytology or exclusively histopathology rather than a combination extending to both areas.

Pathology Aid Positions: Pathology Aid, GS-0646-03

Nature, range, and complexity of work

Pathology Aids GS-3 working in cytological laboratories prepare slides to display cellular contents of a variety of samples of specimens using care and skill not to rupture or otherwise destroy cells, after the appropriate processing procedures have been specified by the supervisor. As knowledge of the work increases, they may prepare staining solutions and stain specimens, following specific guides and instructions furnished by the supervisor.

Pathology Aids GS-3 working in the histopathology area of the laboratory perform a number of steps in routine preparation of specimens such as embedding and cutting tissues, staining tissues with standardized stains (e.g., hematoxylin and eosin), and mounting slides.

Control over the Work

The supervisor checks work during progress and spot checks finished slides to assure adequacy for subsequent microscopic examination, and furnishes specific instruction and guidance on any restaining, etc., necessary to assure quality of finished work. As the pathology aid demonstrates skills, knowledges, and the ability to meet standards of quality and quantity of work completed, the supervisor relies upon him to follow written guides with little or no instruction or demonstration and reviews only the finished slides.

Cytology Technician Positions: Cytology Technician, GS-0646-04

GS-4 cytology technicians are primarily distinguished from those at GS-3 in that they are responsible for the microscopic study of cervical slides whereas GS-3 technicians work primarily on those tasks that are preparatory to microscopic study.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

GS-4 cytology technicians typically prepare, fix, stain, and examine microscopically smears for cancer detection. In some laboratories, GS-4 assignments typically involve preparing, fixing, staining, and studying microscopically vaginal and cervical smears. Through microscopic study, the technician determines whether the cells are normal, unsatisfactory for examination, or positive for malignant cells. On negative and unsatisfactory specimens the technician releases reports directly to the requesting clinician, with only occasional review by the supervisor. On slides which show evidence of abnormal cell structure the technician marks significant areas and prepares a report of findings and submits the slides and report to the pathologist.

Some Cytology Technicians GS-4, in addition, perform more difficult work in a trainee capacity.

Control over the Work

GS-4 cytology technicians are given instructions on every procedure. The supervisor outlines the procedure for any new test and defines the standard to be maintained. He provides specific criteria for determining whether cells are normal or abnormal. The supervisor occasionally spot checks work in progress and occasionally reviews slides which the technician reports as negative. The supervisor carefully reviews those slides the technician reports as indicating abnormal or atypical cells.

Cytology Technician Positions: Cytology Technician, GS-0646-05

GS-5 cytology technicians primarily differ from those at GS-4 by the responsibility for determining the degree of abnormality of cell structure in cervical smears which they study microscopically; GS-4 technicians determine only whether the cell structure is normal or abnormal. At the GS-5 level, while all work is reviewed by the supervisor or the laboratory director, the work is not ordinarily reviewed in progress other than check through quality control techniques.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

GS-5 cytology technician assignments typically include the preparation (fixing and staining) and microscopic examination of slides of vaginal and cervical smears. The technician, in addition to determining whether the slides are negative or positive for malignant cells, also determines the degree of abnormality in the specimens that show abnormal cell structure (i.e., atypical-no repeat, atypical-follow-up, suspicious, suggestive, or positively malignant). They may also prepare and examine specimens from other parts of the body.

The Cytology Technician GS-5 is required to have a basic knowledge of exfoliated cells and the range of their variability in fluids and secretions from the various cavities of the body.

Control over the Work

Typically, technical assistance is constantly available to GS-5 cytology technicians so that any questions they may have regarding interpretation of the smears may be discussed.

The supervisor typically reviews the slides which the technician has marked. He discusses them with the technician. He also reviews closely and discusses the degree of abnormality which the technician has reported. Generally, there is only a spot check of marked slides and report prior to submission to the pathologist. Reports of negative slides are spot checked before the report is sent to the clinician.

There are instructions governing the GS-5 cytology technician's assignment. These instructions may be written or oral. The supervisor provides specific criteria for the determinations the technician makes regarding normality or the degrees of abnormality.

Cytology Technician Positions: Cytology Technician, GS-0646-06

GS-6 cytology technicians differ from GS-5 technicians in that they are responsible for a variety of complex tests of specimens from any part of the body for which detailed procedures do not apply to many aspects of the work. They work under general supervision whereas GS-5 technicians are under technical supervision with technical assistance immediately available at all times.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

GS-6 cytology technicians usually prepare and examine microscopically many types of cytological specimens from any part of the body, including those from the urinary tract, respiratory tract, digestive system, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, direct smears from lesions and ulcerated areas and buccal slides as well as specimens from the female vaginal tract. After the cytology technician's reports of microscopic study are reviewed by the pathologist, they are used by clinicians to evaluate the morphologic effects of various therapeutic agents or modes of treatment.

Cytology Technicians GS-6 must keep abreast of current developments in their field by reading the literature. They make suggestions for changes in technique and procedure. With permission from the supervisor, they try out new procedures, compare them with those being used, and report results to the supervisor. GS-6 cytology technicians are often responsible for demonstrating and discussing procedures and techniques with pathology residents or others who are in training at the hospital. These duties involve significant personal work contacts with pathologists, physicians, and residents.

Control over the Work

Written guidelines and oral instructions do not cover many aspects of the GS-6 cytology technician's assignment. For example, he is expected to know what procedures to follow in preparing and examining a specimen of unusual origin or condition even though these procedures are not covered in the laboratory manual and are not covered by oral instructions. He knows these procedures or is able to interpolate, by virtue of his experience or from the general literature rather than by instruction or laboratory manuals.

GS-6 cytology technicians typically work under the general direction and guidance of a medical technologist or a pathologist. GS-6 technicians typically schedule their own work, assure that the workload is kept current, and process emergency work with only general supervision. Work in demonstrating and discussing techniques with pathology residents and others in training is reviewed in terms of overall results.

Suggestions for change in the details of techniques or procedures are reviewed and evaluated by the supervisor prior to their use on a regular basis. All work is subject to final evaluation and review by the pathologist.

For the GS-6 cytology technician, the pathologist's review is usually concentrated on the slides which the technician has marked for his attention and on the technician's reports on the tests. This review and evaluation is done before the reports are submitted to the attending clinician. The pathologist spot checks negative reports which the technician sends to the attending clinician.

Cytology Technician Positions: Cytology Technician, GS-0646-07

The primary distinction between GS-7 cytology technicians and those at GS-6 is that the GS-7 level requires greater skill and knowledge to perform specialized, difficult, delicate, and demanding procedures and techniques as described below.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

GS-7 cytology technicians perform extremely difficult, intricate, delicate, and demanding procedures in preparing and examining a great variety of cytological specimens from any part of the body. These advanced procedures require a high degree of skill and proficiency as well as unusual insight and knowledge of the procedures and techniques applicable to the services provided by the laboratory. As at the GS-6 level, GS-7 technicians determine not only negative or positive (normal or abnormal) but also the degree of abnormality. However, at the GS-7 level, these determinations require extremely fine distinctions which can only be made on the basis of very broad experience and a high level of expertise. GS-7 technicians typically release reports on negative and unsatisfactory specimens directly to the referring physician.

The work at this level typically involves significant personal work contacts with pathologists and other physicians.

Control over the Work

Written and oral instructions do not cover many aspects of the GS-7 cytology technician's assignment. He must extend and expand known procedures and techniques covering related situations to the assignment at hand. He must interpret, modify, and adapt instructions to apply to new and unusual situations.

GS-7 cytology technicians typically are under the general supervision of a pathologist who is legally responsible for reviewing findings and for the final decision. However, the pathologist almost invariably finds that the technician's markings and his reports indicate such a high degree of understanding, knowledge, judgment, and insight in differentiating cells and cell structure through microscopic study that his findings can be accepted with only occasional changes or additions. Because of the number of slides prepared and examined in the laboratory and because of the great confidence in the technician's skill and judgment, the pathologist seldom spot checks reports on negative and unsatisfactory specimens which the technician has released directly to the referring physicians.

Histopathology Technician Positions: Histopathology Technician, GS-0646-04

Histopathology Technicians GS-4 are primarily distinguished from pathology technicians at GS-3 by responsibility for performing work requiring demonstrated skill in the cutting of a variety of tissues and the use of a few relatively uncomplicated special stains as well as the more common and standardized stains.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

Histopathology Technicians GS-4 are assigned to relatively standardized preparation of slides of tissues for light microscopic study involving fixation, dehydration, embedding, sectioning, staining, and mounting. Work at this level includes, for example, the use of a few relatively uncomplicated special stains, and the preparation of standard histologic sections. Specimens processed typically do not include nerve, brain, tooth, or eye tissues, or those that are unusually large or small.

Control over the Work

GS-4 histopathology technicians are normally provided detailed instructions on the work procedures. These instructions may be oral or written. The supervisor outlines the complete procedure for any new technique and defines the standards to be maintained. The supervisor or other higher-grade technician is constantly available for guidance as necessary. Although the technician typically performs his work with only occasional spot checking during processing, his finished slides are reviewed for quality and accuracy.

Histopathology Technician Positions: Histopathology Technician, GS-0646-05

GS-5 histopathology technicians differ from those at GS-4 in that they perform work requiring a variety of relatively difficult techniques and procedures (e.g., embedding, precise positioning, and cutting of minute pieces of tissue, cutting serial sections). Technical assistance is always available.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

Histopathology Technicians GS-5 performing work for light microscopic study prepare and use special stains which do not require microscopic differentiation; embed and cut a variety of tissues including brain, bone, eye, and unusually small or delicate specimens; cut a large number of serial sections; prepare serial sections from various tissues. Some GS-5 positions may involve cutting and staining frozen sections for rapid diagnosis by the pathologist during surgery.

GS-5 histopathology technicians must have some knowledge of chemistry and anatomy; and must be skilled in handling the different kinds of tissue.

Some Histopathology Technicians GS-5 for training purposes prepare tissues for electron microscopic study.

Control over the Work

Although the tests are relatively difficult and complex, they are typically standardized. This means that there is a uniform or standardized and commonly agreed upon procedure for accomplishing the test including the steps, sequence of steps, strength of solutions, etc. In a given laboratory the technician is supplied with precise and detailed instructions for performing the test. These instructions may be oral or written.

GS-5 histopathology technicians performing work in preparing slides of specimens for light microscopic work, work under general technical supervision with only spot-check review of slides. Work involving the preparation of frozen sections for rapid diagnosis by the pathologist during surgery and work involving the special staining procedures is performed under close supervision during all phases.

GS-5 histopathology technicians performing work in preparing tissue specimens for electron microscopic study are closely guided and supervised in acquiring the very fine degree of skill necessary for such work.

Histopathology Technician Positions: Histopathology Technician, GS-0646-06

GS-6 histopathology technicians are distinguished from GS-5 primarily in that they work under general supervision in performing a variety of procedures and techniques in preparing histologic slides.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

GS-6 histopathology technicians typically perform procedures in preparing histologic sections requiring advanced and nonstandardized techniques and procedures. They prepare frozen tissue sections during surgery. The tissue may be from any part of the body and may require delicate and precise preparation. They prepare and use a variety of nonstandard or special stains, some of which require microscopic differentiation. They are responsible for cutting serial sections of complicated anatomical structures requiring precise positioning and delicate preparation. They may perform duties in training to prepare tissue for electron microscopic study. These duties require practical understanding of the chemistry, biology, and anatomy involved. This work often involves significant personal work contacts with physicians, scientists, and pathologists.

Control over the Work

For Histopathology Technicians GS-6 there is very little review of the work upon completion. Assistance and guidance is provided in the microscopic evaluation of nonstandard or specially stained tissues.

During preparation of rapid frozen sections during surgery typically the GS-6 histopathology technician works under the general supervision and guidance of the pathologist. When they prepare tissue for the electron microscope GS-6 technicians are closely guided and reports are fully discussed to increase their understanding of differentiating cellular structure of specimens and to improve their skill.

Written guidelines and oral instructions do not cover all aspects of the GS-6 histopathology technician assignment. For example, he is expected to know what procedures to follow for preparing and staining a specimen for fungus, for bacteria, or for amyloid when requested by the pathologist. He knows by virtue of his experience or from the general literature, not by instruction or laboratory manuals.

Histopathology Technician Positions: Histopathology Technician, GS-0646-07

The primary distinction between GS-7 histopathology technicians and those at GS-6 is that the GS-7 level requires greater skill and knowledge to perform specialized, difficult, delicate, and demanding techniques and procedures as described below.

Nature, range, and complexity of work

The GS-7 histopathology technician performs a variety of extremely difficult, delicate and complex tissue tests including the preparation of frozen sections for rapid diagnosis of tissue during surgery. Without supervision GS-7 histopathology technicians are often responsible for preparing tissue for electron microscopic study. Another assignment may be that of taking photomicrographs.

The tissue specimens with which the GS-7 works may be of any size and condition from any part of the body. He prepares a wide variety of special stained slides requiring many complex and delicate processes (for example, alteration and standardization of the pH and concentration of the chemical solutions used in microscopic differentiations and control of the staining reaction to achieve precise staining results).

After the histopathology technician examines the slides microscopically, he accepts or rejects slides on the basis of proper staining reactions.

The GS-7 histopathology technician must be proficient in recognizing tissue from any part of the body and be able to identify the origin and the type of tissue.

At this level, the work typically involves significant personal work contacts with pathologists and other physicians.

Control over the Work

Written and oral instructions do not cover all aspects of the GS-7 histopathology technician's assignment. He must extend and expand known procedures and techniques covering related situations to the assignment at hand. He must interpret, modify, and adapt instructions to apply to new and unusual situations.

The GS-7 histopathology technician typically works under the general direction and supervision of a medical technologist or a pathologist. Because the technician is recognized as having a high level of knowledge and experience and unusual skill in performing the work, the pathologist can accept the histologic preparations and staining reactions with only occasional requests for additional or corrective procedures. Because of the volume of tissues processed in the laboratory, and because the pathologist has great confidence in the technician's competence to produce consistently reliable results, the pathologist seldom checks the validity of the many technical procedures involved in the preparation of tissues for microscopic examination.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Degree: medical technology, chemistry, or biology that included or was supplemented by at least:

-16 semester hours of biological science of which one course was in microbiology and one course was in immunology. (NOTE: If there is no mention of immunology or immunobiology in the course title, the requirement for a course in immunology may be met by any course that covers the following topic areas: (1) definition and relationships of antigens and antibodies; (2) host-antigen interactions; (3) bursal and thymic influences on lymphoid cells; and (4) humoral and cellular response mechanisms.) The remaining biology courses must have been in general biology, zoology, or any of the areas listed below under "Evaluation of Education and Experience;" -16 semester hours of chemistry of which one course was in organic or biochemistry. The remaining chemistry courses must have been in general chemistry, qualitative analysis, qualitative chemistry, quantitative chemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, or any of the areas listed below under "Evaluation of Education and Experience;" and 3 semester hours of college mathematics.

OR

A full 4-year course of study that included or was supplemented by at least 12 months in a college or hospital-based medical technology program or medical technology school approved by a recognized accrediting organization. The professional medical technology curriculum may have consisted of a 1-year post-baccalaureate certificate program or the last 1 or 2 years of a 4-year program of study culminating in a bachelor's in medical technology.

OR

A combination of (1) at least 35 semester hours of biological science, chemistry, and mathematics as described in paragraph A above and (2) additional appropriate education and/or experience totaling 4 years. This combination of education and experience must have provided knowledge of the theories, principles, and practices of medical technology equivalent to that provided by the full 4-year course of study described in A or B above. All science and mathematics courses must have been acceptable for credit toward meeting the requirements for a science major at an accredited college or university. Acceptable experience is responsible professional or technician experience in a hospital laboratory, health agency, industrial medical laboratory, or pharmaceutical house; or teaching, test development, or medical research program experience that provided an understanding of the methods and techniques applied in performing professional clinical laboratory work. Certification/licensure as a medical technologist (generalist) obtained through written examination by a nationally recognized credentialing agency or State licensing body is a good indication that the quality of experience is acceptable.

Evaluation of Education and Experience: The four major areas of clinical laboratory science are microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, and immunohematology (blood banking). Qualifying course work in these areas includes bacteriology, mycology, mycobacteriology, tissue culture, virology, parasitology, endocrinology, enzymology, toxicology, urinalysis, coagulation, hemostasis, cell morphology, immunology, serology, immunoserology, immuno-deficiency, hemolysis, histocompatibility, cyto-genetics, and similar disciplines or areas of laboratory practice.

Related fields include physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, cell biology, embryology, pathology, genetics, pharmacology, histology, cytology, nuclear medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics, infection control, physics, statistics, and similar areas of science where the work is directly related to the position to be filled. Experience or graduate education must have been in (1) the general field of medical technology, (2) one of the disciplines or specialized areas of medical technology, or (3) a field directly related and applicable to medical technology or the position to be filled.

Sources of Additional Information

Information on obtaining Pathology Technician positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.usajobs.gov or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or  (703) 724–1850  or TDD (978) 461–8404 and   (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.

Sources:

  • Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Standards.

Download Today!

Do Your Homework

The competition is fierce when it comes to finding a government job today, but the best informed job seekers are sure to come out on top. Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process, shows you step-by-step what you need to do in order to be considered for government employment.

Contact

We are here to help you and answer your questions. support@dreamfedjob.com