As crucial members of the pathology and laboratory medicine service, histopathology technologists possess broad knowledge of biological sciences and the skills necessary to process anatomic pathology specimens. The work performed by histopathology technologists is vital for pathologists to interpret laboratory results and provide diagnoses and prognoses that allow for planning appropriate and life-saving treatments. Applicants pending the completion of educational or certification/licensure requirements may be referred and tentatively selected but may not be hired until all requirements are met. Basic Requirements: United States Citizenship: Non-citizens may only be appointed when it is not possible to recruit qualified citizens in accordance with VA Policy. Education. Individuals must meet one of the requirements below: (1) Successful completion of a full four-year course of study from an accredited college or university, leading to a bachelor's or higher degree, that included a major study in an academic field related to health sciences or allied sciences appropriate to the work of a histopathology technologist, such as, but not limited to clinical biology, microbiology, physiology, pre-medical, medical lab technology, chemistry, immunology, physiology, anatomy; OR, (2) Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university with a combination of 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) of biology and chemistry (must include credit hours in both); OR, (3) Successful completion of two years of progressively higher level graduate education, leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree, with a major study in an academic field related to health sciences or allied sciences appropriate to the position of histopathology technologist, such as clinical biology, microbiology, physiology, pre-medical, medical lab technology, chemistry, immunology, physiology, anatomy. Foreign Education. To be creditable, education completed outside the U.S. must have been submitted to a private organization approved by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials, and such education must have been deemed at least equivalent to that gained in conventional U.S. programs. Certification. (1) Candidates must currently possess the histo-technologist (HTL) certification given by the ASCP Board of Certification. The ASCP requires completion of one of the following for a candidate to be considered "board eligible" to take the certification exam: (a) Successful completion of a histo-technician or histo-technology program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS); OR, (b) One year of full time experience in all of the following: fixation, embedding, microtomy, processing, and staining in a histopathology (clinical, veterinary, industry, or research) laboratory. Physical requirement. pre-employment physical must be passed. English language requirement. Must be proficient in spoken and written English. May qualify based on being covered by the Grandfathering Provision as described in the VA Qualification Standard for this occupation (only applicable to current VHA employees who are in this occupation and meet the criteria). All histopathology technologists employed in VHA in this occupational series or in another occupational series, who perform the duties as described in the qualification standard on the effective date of this qualification standard, are considered to have met all qualification requirements for the grade held, including positive education and certification that are part of the basic requirements of the occupation. For employees who do not meet all the basic requirements in this standard, but who met the qualifications applicable to the position at the time they were appointed to the position, the following provisions apply: (1) Histopathology technologists who do not meet the basic requirements for education and certification may be reassigned, promoted up to and including the full performance level, or demoted within the occupation, but may not be promoted beyond the full performance level or placed in a supervisory or managerial position. (2) Histopathology technologists who are appointed on a temporary basis prior to the effective date of the qualification standard may not have their temporary appointment extended or receive a new appointment on a temporary or permanent basis, until they fully meet the basic requirements of the standard. (3) Histopathology technologists initially grandfathered into this occupation, who subsequently obtain education and/or certification that meet all the basic requirements of this qualification standard, must maintain the required credentials as a condition of employment in the occupation. (4) If histopathology technologists, who are grandfathered under this provision, leave the occupation then those employees lose grandfathered protected status and must meet the full VA qualification standard requirements in effect at the time of reentry to the histopathology technologist occupation in this series. Grade Determinations: Histopathology Technologist, GS-7 (1) Experience. None beyond the basic requirements. (2) Assignment. At this level, histopathology technologists serve in developmental positions practicing under close supervision of a supervisor, lab manager, or qualified individual who can verify technical experience. Histopathology Technologist, GS-9 (1) Experience. Must have one year of creditable experience equivalent to the GS-7 grade level, which is directly related to the position to be filled. (2) Assignment. At the full performance level, the histopathology technologist independently performs a full range of routine and specialized tests. Utilize information technology systems to apply histopathology techniques and broad scientific principles from the fields of biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. The histopathology technologist acts as a technical resource, troubleshooting a variety of specialized lab tests, identifying suboptimal issues, and uses independent judgment and resources to resolve concerns. The histopathology technologist ensures goals are met by prioritizing work, as necessary, in times of short staffing, or heavy workload, and by performing simultaneous tasks. The histopathology technologist uses professional skills in applying anatomic pathology principles, practices, concepts, and theories to perform new or difficult specialized testing methods, such as immuno-histochemical, histochemical, and frozen section techniques. (3) Demonstrated Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. In addition to the experience or education above, the candidate must demonstrate all of the following KSAs: (a) Knowledge of laboratory information technology systems and inter-connectivity. (b) Knowledge of histopathology techniques, chemistry, anatomy and physiology principles, theories, concepts, and methodologies sufficient to process specimens, and the ability to perform a full range of routine specialized tests. (c) Ability to identify and test suboptimal specimens and take corrective action to minimize or eliminate impact on a patient's sample. (d) Ability to organize, coordinate, and prioritize simultaneous work assignments; both individual and team related. (e) Skill in applying professional, anatomic pathology principles, practices, concepts, and theories in performing new or difficult specialized testing methods or techniques. Preferred Experience: Gross processing of biopsy specimens. Preparation of cytology specimens. Frozen sections. References: VA Handbook 5005/118, Part II, Appendix G65. The full performance level of this vacancy is GS-9. The actual grade at which an applicant may be selected for this vacancy is in the range of GS-7 TO GS-9. Physical Requirements: Subject to pre-employment physical. The work requires manual dexterity, visual acuity, regular and recurring physical exertion such as standing for long periods, lifting moderately heavy supply items and small equipment and walking on a regular basis. The ability to work under stressful conditions when there is demand for accuracy and speed in reporting results is necessary. ["Histopathology Technologists independently perform a full range of routine and specialized tests. They utilize information technology systems to apply histopathology techniques and broad scientific principles from the fields of biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. The histopathology technologist acts as a technical resource, troubleshooting a variety of specialized lab tests, identifying suboptimal tissues, and uses independent judgment and resources to resolve concerns. The histopathology technologist ensures goals are met by prioritizing work, as necessary, in times of short staffing, or heavy workload, and by performing simultaneous tasks. The histopathology technologist uses professional skills in applying anatomic pathology principles, practices, concepts, and theories to perform new or difficult specialized testing methods, such as immuno-histochemical, histochemical, and frozen section techniques. ASSIGNED DUTIES Receives and/or obtains specimens using appropriate techniques, maintaining proper identification. Performs all elements of gross examination and sectioning of all types of surgical pathology specimens. Prepares specimens for analysis according to the specifications of the procedure. Handles all types of human tissue which may include; receiving, checking, accepting, timing, logging, storing and/or shipping, if necessary. Provides technical guidance to ensure all tissues are properly oriented when embedding them, according to established procedures and depending on the type of specimen being prepared (e.g. shave biopsies on edge; core biopsies to demonstrate the maximum amount of tissue). Processes all cytological specimens including sputa, body secretions, fluids and fine needle aspirates. Is present in Radiology to prepare smears, cytological specimens for cyto-preparation and cellblocks, and to determine if any tissue or bone is present for fixation in formalin. Determines whether specimens need concentration or dilution and prepares slides using cytospin technique or other method. Stains cytological specimens separately and performs special stains when required. Recognizes origin and type of tissues and properly orients and cuts small or complex specimens, choosing appropriate microtome knives and section thickness. Sharpens microtome knives. Photography of gross specimens and maintenance of a teaching collection of gross and microscopic photographs. Prepares frozen tissue sections for special immunological studies which includes; selecting, freezing, cutting (microtomy) and staining Tissue for Frozen Section exam by the pathologist. Employs the cryostat. Teaches and trains other laboratory personnel to perform immuno-histochemical and special stains. Under the direction of the supervisor maintains QA files of blocks and slides needed to perform special stains and immunohistochemistry stains in the laboratory. Stains tissue sections using special stains as required, including, but not limited to Acid Fast, Alcian Blue, Congo Red, Fontana-Masson, Giemsa, Gram, Iron, Melanin, Methenamine Silver, Mucicarmine, PAS-Schiff, and Trichrome. Incumbent should know which stain to employ to demonstrate particular tissue elements and properties (e.g. Congo Red for amyloid, Fontana-Masson for melanin) and be able to interpret positive controls used for these procedures. As special staining requires microscopic differentiation for acceptance, the incumbent examines the slides microscopically and accepts or rejects them on the basis of proper staining reaction within the control slides. The incumbent is able to troubleshoot all problems with special staining procedures and implements changes. All decisions involving tissue preparation for light microscopy are determined through experience and knowledge of histopathology. Prepares all stains and chemical solutions with a competent, practical knowledge of chemistry. This includes alteration and standardization of pH and concentration of the solutions (percent, molar and/or normal), reagents, buffers and stains, using pH meters, analytical balances and mixers. Since many of these reagents and solutions are toxic, caustic or flammable (e.g. Silver solutions, formaldehyde, acids, alcohols), follows safety procedures. Performs complex immuno-histochemical stains and procedures including, but not limited to, special pre-treatment procedures, antigen retrieval, enzymatic digestion, antibody diluting, and titers, immuno-flourescence, enzyme immunohistochemistry and frozen section microtomy. Troubleshoots and corrects problems with these procedures and maintains records and QA data as necessary. Work Schedule: Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 3:30 OR 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Compressed: Not available. Telework: Not available. Virtual: This is not a virtual position. Position Title/Functional Statement #: Histopathology Technologist/PD000000 Relocation/Recruitment Incentives: May be authorized. Financial Disclosure Report: Not required"]
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