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American Society for Mohs Histotechnology

Summer 2021 Newsletter

President's Message

Summer greetings everyone!

I hope this newsletter finds you all well. We all continue to fully embrace the new virtual world we now live in. I was disappointed we had to cancel our in-person annual meeting this year. It was a very difficult decision to make the call, but during these unprecedented times, it was the only decision to make. The Program Committee, however, developed an excellent first-ever virtual meeting.

I would first like to acknowledge our Annual Meeting Program Committee who worked tirelessly throughout this past year to develop our first-ever virtual program that provided education for all levels of Mohs experience. Seattle, WA 2021 was well served and represented with its outstanding content. Many thanks to our program Chair, Norma Anderson, HT (ASCP), Co-Chair, Linda Cesario, DPM, HT (ASCP), and the rest of the committee: Angel Maden, MS, HT (ASCP)cm, Lindsey Riggs, HTL, Jeanie Wade, HT (ASCP), Robert Tagliaferro, HT (ASCP)cm, and Dawn Willett. Great job!

My sincere appreciation and thanks to all of speakers and faculty who already had much, if not all, content developed and ready to present virtually for our annual meeting in Seattle, WA. Thank you for all your extra efforts in preparing and presenting for our virtual format.

We depend on our exhibitors and vendors. There was an extensive amount of time, coordination and dollars spent for these meetings, which is all necessary for our conference to achieve its educational goal. We are grateful for their sponsorship and look forward to their continued support in years to come.

Thank you for all the attendees this year. Your comments and ideas for next year’s meeting provide us with useful information as the 2022 Program Chair, Linda Cesario, is already busy planning for next year’s meeting. I am so looking forward to next year’s meeting in Philadelphia.

Angel Maden, MS, HT (ASCP)cm and Camille McKay, M.Ed, BSHCA, HTL, CL, completed their terms on the Board as Director and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively. Thank you both for your contributions and I look forward to your continued service to the ASMH in different avenues and capacities. The results of the recent Board elections were announced at the Business Meeting. The new members are, for the office of Secretary-Treasurer, Angel MadenMS, HT (ASCP)cm; and for the position of Director, Ryan Reusch, HT (ASCP). Congratulations to you both! I would like to thank Linda Cesario, DPM, HT (ASCP), who will be serving the remainder of a vacated Director position.

Marilyn McCullough, CLT was the recipient of the ASMH Distinguished Service Award. Marilyn’s dedication, contributions and outstanding service to the ASMH organization and its entire membership is recognized and appreciated. Marilyn has contributed consistently year after year to this organization for many years. She has served as a Director and as a member of the Program Planning Committee. She is recognized as a committee member and contributor to the ACMS Mohs Frozen Section Manual, has been a speaker at ASMH Annual Meetings, and has been an Annual Meeting Program Volunteer who has participated in workshop training since 2003. Marilyn’s infectious personality, education, passion, leadership, ideas, and commitment to ASMH made her a perfect candidate for this award. Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, for us! Congratulations Marilyn!

An enormous amount of gratitude is due to our amazing EDI staff. It was a huge undertaking for them to pivot into a virtual meeting this year. Thank you to our Executive Director, Mary Randall, and the rest of the EDI team, Vanessa Goodman, Mario Ortiz, and Dustin Syrjanen. Like many of us, they are experiencing the same challenges as they work remotely from Wisconsin. It took out of the box thinking for them to complete what they needed to do for every member and vendor/exhibitor, but this extraordinary team made it happen.

If you have an opportunity to create a webinar for our online education or perhaps share uplifting stories of what you and your colleagues are currently experiencing or have experienced this last year, submit your experiences to the newsletter or think about a future session you’d like to present at a future meeting. We are a stronger Society working together as a team to improve our educational offerings.

If there is a Mohs or dermatology related article you think would be of interest to the membership, please contact the Chair for this Task Force, Melinda Chow, MS, HT(ASCP)cm. Please email info@mohstech.org if you would like to submit an article.

ASMH members are asked to complete the 2021 Workforce Survey. This survey contains important questions on how the Society can better serve our membership. Please take a moment to complete the survey using the following link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021_Workforce

Our Mohs Technician Training Program group trainings will resume in October 2021, with a training on October 21-22, at the Avantik Academy Mohs Training Campus in Pine Brook, New Jersey. Registration for this training is open. Visit the ASMH website for more information and to reserve you spot. Please look for additional training dates later this year.

Stay well, stay safe. Looking forward to seeing you all in Philadelphia, PA! There are numerous opportunities within our organization, whether it be serving on the Board, remaining an active member, and promoting new membership, or just promoting and educating others of our organization. For those of you interested in a leadership position, this year we will be accepting nominations for one Board Director. Nominate someone or nominate yourself. This is your chance to help make a difference!

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime at president@mohstech.org.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel H. Gong, MS, MSO, C-PM
ASMH President


Journey of My Career in Histotechnology

Melinda M. Chow, MS, HT (ASCP)cm
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

I am happy to have made a mark in the field of histotechnology. When I first entered histology as a summer intern in a university biology lab several decades ago, the professor handed me the Manual of Histologic Staining Methods of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, edited by Lee Luna. This was the book to read if you wanted to learn the techniques of histology. From that book, I learned how to fix, cut and stain slides for microscopic examination. As an intern, I had to fix African cockroaches in formalin/alcohol mixture. This university lab had only the bare minimum equipment and supplies, and I had to use paper folded boats to embed tissues and cut on a cast iron microtome. All staining was performed manually.

Upon graduation from college, armed with a science degree and some skills in histology, I landed a research histology training position at an eye institute testing eye drops on rabbits. It was very challenging to cut rabbits’ eyeballs. Being a rookie in the field, I received a lot of advice and guidance from the clinical lab staff at this institute. I learned a novel method to fix eyeballs, the technique of sharpening carbon steel microtome knives on leather belts and fine polishing on glass plates. It was an arduous task in sharpening knives, as disposable knives came several years later. Disposable microtome blades are a godsend. They saved Histotechs much time and injuries in sharpening knives. 

After completing my training, I moved on to the first clinical pathology lab at a major research hospital in New York City. It looked like a factory. There were about ten histotechs doing the cutting. Two embedders and one histotech did the routine stain. All special stains were done by another histotech. The histotechs were crammed in one small laboratory, embedding, cutting and staining. This was back in the early 1980s. We did not have to sharpen knives by hand, as this lab had an automatic knife sharpener.

A few years later, I tried other clinical jobs and landed a job with a pharmaceutical company in research and development and regulatory compliance. I was part of the team that won two FDA approvals. Throughout my career, I acquired new skills and knowledge in special staining, electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry (IHC), in situ hybridization (ISH), fluorescence immunohistochemistry (FIHC) and cryotomy. I also learned preparation of undecalcified bone with metal implants on a grinding machine in an orthopedic company and sectioning different types of wood on the sledge microtome in a bioengineering laboratory at a major university. 

Subsequently, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to work in the Mohs histopathology lab at a major cancer center, Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSKCC) in New Jersey. During my time at MSKCC, I was able to obtain my American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) HT certification which can add value to one’s career. I have been working as a Mohs histotech for several Mohs surgeons in the past 10 years. Compared to all the jobs I held before, I find this career most rewarding and fulfilling. My only regret is that I did not get into Mohs histopathology sooner.

As I reflect back on my career path in the field of histology, I feel blessed and grateful that I always had a position to fall back on. I never had any difficulty finding another histology position. Many of my classmates, friends and siblings are out of jobs or had to take early retirement due to budget cuts, job elimination or other reasons. Looking forward, I envision AI (artificial intelligence) and techniques such as RCM (reluctance confocal microscopy) and MUSE (microscopy with ultraviolet surface excitation) will play important roles in shaping the future of Mohs histotechnology.


ASMH Mohs Technician Training Program

Linda R. Cesario, DPM, HT (ASCP)
Director, Mohs Technician Training Program

We're back!

The ASMH Mohs Tech Training Program will be headed to New Jersey in the fall for its first training of 2021. As the pandemic wanes, our ACMS-approved trainers are anxious to return to their passion of teaching. 

Avantik will be hosting the ASMH Training Program October 21-22, 2021, at their training academy in Pine Brook, NJ for an educational opportunity you will not want to miss. Mohs techs that are striving to be their best will find this two-day program filled with valuable information and tricks of the trade that will take them to the next level. Lectures, hands-on and networking give rise to a comprehensive and fun event. Please visit the ASMH website for more information. Registration is now open. Don’t miss out!

But wait, there’s more…
The ASMH Mohs Tech Training Program is excited to announce it has proudly partnered with Mercedes Scientific, bringing this event to Lakewood Ranch, FL in early 2022. Please check the ASMH website for more details in the future.

The ASMH Mohs Technician Training Program is the only ACMS-approved program, and it is accredited by the NSH. Learn and earn 12 CEU’s through the NSH, plus a certificate of completion through the ASMH/ACMS.

The ASMH would like to acknowledge and thank the vendors for their support in facilitating educational opportunities for Mohs techs.


2022 ASMH Board of Directors Nominations Now Open

Nominations are now being accepted for one position on the 2022 ASMH Board of Directors. In early 2022, the membership will elect one (1) Director for the 2022 term. The Director will serve a three-year term beginning at the conclusion of the 2022 Annual Meeting and ending at the conclusion of the 2025 Annual Meeting. A description of the position duties is attached.

Nominations for the position of Director must be received by the ASMH office no later than Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Self-nominations are accepted. Elections will take place via electronic voting beginning in February 2022.

Think about someone who you feel is qualified for these positions and ask him or her to serve - or nominate yourself. A description of the duties for these two positions and the nomination form can be found here.


Call for Presentations - ASMH 2022 Annual Meeting

Planning is underway for the 2022 ASMH Annual Meeting. This meeting will take place Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14, with a pre-conference workshop day on Thursday, May 12.

Are you interested in sharing your knowledge and expertise at the meeting? The Annual Meeting Program Committee would like to consider your presentation!  Please complete this survey no later than September 15, 2021. If you’re unable to attend the 2022 Annual Meeting but wish to present at a future meeting, please complete this survey so we can consider you in the future.


Submit an Article for the ASMH Winter 2021 Newsletter

The ASMH Newsletter Committee is seeking your ideas and submissions for the ASMH Winter e-Newsletter! Please consider your recent Mohs lab experiences; are there things you’ve done or learned that your fellow members may want to know about? Think of successes, tips, tricks or anything else that helps advance the work of Mohs technicians.

Here are some topics to write about:

  • CLIA: Is your lab ready for CLIA inspection?
  • Cryostat Ergonomics
  • MUSE (Microscopy with UV Surface Excitation)
  • Education and certification: How did you sign up and prepare for HT or HTL certification exam?
  • COVID-19: Working during the pandemic
  • Reducing static in the lab
  • Staining: Toluidine blue vs. H&E staining
  • Equipment: Any new tools, technology or tips for using them in your lab?

The target word count for most pieces is between 300-600 words. As a reference, 600 words is less than a page of single-spaced text! If you feel a particular subject bears more in-depth examination, that's okay too. Also, think of what visuals you could provide--photos, graphs, charts, screenshots, infographics, etc.

Questions? Have an idea of something you'd like to submit? Email dsyrjanen@mohstech.org with your ideas or submissions! As always, thank you for your involvement in the ASMH!



Member Resources

ASMH Workforce Survey

One of the benefits of ASMH membership is the ability to contribute to ASMH’s biennial Workforce Survey. Data obtained from this survey will not only help examine industry standards and trends, but will assist you and other Mohs technicians in determining if you are paid competitively. When you know what the industry standard is, you can negotiate salary with your current employer during the performance appraisal process. This information can also assist you with future job search efforts. This survey will close September 30, 2021.

Your participation is important!  Please take a moment to participate in the 2021 survey using the following link: 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021_Workforce

This survey will close September 30, 2021. All survey participants will be entered in a drawing to win one of two $25 Visa gift cards. The information on the last page of the survey will be used for drawing purposes only and will not be included in the tabulation or results of the survey.

Survey results will be available to all members at no cost in December 2021.

To view the results of the 2019 Workforce Survey, log in to the Members page on the ASMH website.

ASMH Bibliography - Including COVID-19 Resources

The ASMH bibliography is your resource and we strongly encourage you to explore it. Efforts will be made to keep the articles up to date and relevant to current best practices while keeping the scope wide enough to interest the broadest of minds. It is our intention to cover subjects ranging from basic lab techniques, Mohs embedding, cryotomy, routine and immunohistochemical staining, lab safety, ethics and work flow. This is a continually evolving project that will be guided by your feedback, suggestions and more importantly, your contributions, so please share interesting articles and send topic suggestions to info@mohstech.org.

Go to the bibliography and find new COVID-19 resources: Laboratory Biosafety & Coronavirus Disinfection in Histopathology.

Member Marker


The American Society for Mohs Histotechnology has a rich tradition of dedicated members that work hard to keep the ASMH true to the original commission; to uphold the importance of training, collaboration and consistency, while working in conjunction with the American College of Mohs Surgery to ensure that the high standards set by Dr. Mohs continue to be met.

Members are encouraged to download, and use this graphic in your email signature, on your social media profile or added to your professional online presence. Please remember that you may not, in any way, alter, manipulate or change this graphic. Contact info@mohstech.org should you have any questions about proper use.


Note to ASMH Newsletter Readers:
Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise throughout this e-newsletter, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the American Society for Mohs Histotechnology. The views and opinions of authors expressed do not state or reflect those of the American Society for Mohs Histotechnology.


ASMH Board of Directors