Summer 2020 Newsletter
Summer greetings to all!
I hope this newsletter finds you and your families safe and well. This has been a trying and challenging year for us all. I hope all of you are holding up. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the honor of serving as your new President, as our Past President Mo Gagnot, HT (ASCP) has left very large shoes to fill. However, I believe no one person is more important than the Team. As a team we can continue and grow our Society with exciting, new and innovative changes. Some changes are already taking place, but there is still much work to be done.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has altered many of our daily routines at work. In many cases reducing our workloads requiring staffing adjustments. In the end, we are all health professionals doing our best to provide the best patient care for our patients, doing so in the safest manner possible by social distancing and continuing to use our personal protective equipment in the laboratory.
The success of our Society is built upon you, the members, and the time and dedication of our previous officers, board members, committee chairs, committee members and our management team at Executive Director, Inc.
The Business Meeting that would have taken place at the Annual Meeting occurred via virtual Zoom meeting on Saturday, May 2.
Congratulations to our incoming board members: Vice President - Lindsey E. Riggs, HTL (ASCP); Director - Angelic R. Maden, MS, HT (ASCP)cm; Director - Melinda M. Chow, MS, HT (ASCP)cm; and ACMS Representative - Daniel Eisen, MD, FACMS. Thank you to the dedicated service of outgoing board members: Marilyn McCulloch, CLT, Director; and Linda R. Cesario, DPM, HT (ASCP), Immediate Past President. Without the hard work and dedication of these individuals, our membership would not be able to enjoy the benefits and resources the ASMH offers.
I would like to thank Melinda Chow, MS, HT (ASCP), and Kurt Hemmings, Co-Chairs of the ASMH Education/Resources Task Force, with leading the way with our new ASMH Bibliography. Please explore it and the other on-line resources.
For those of you interested in running for a leadership position, this year we will be accepting nominations for one Board Director and Secretary/Treasurer position. Nominate someone or nominate yourself. This is your chance to help make a difference!
I would like to thank all those who signed up for the 23rd Annual Meeting in Nashville. We had a record sign-up of 311! Our current membership stands at 411 and continues to grow each year. Many thanks to the valuable work of Annual Meeting Program Chair, Lindsey Riggs, HTL, Co-Chair Norma Anderson, HT (ASCP), the Program Committee, workshop volunteers, and speakers who would have made this meeting a great success. A very special thank you to Mary Randall, ASMH Executive Director, who tirelessly makes it all happen behind the scenes.
All Annual Meeting refunds have been processed. If you have not received your refund, please contact ASMH at email@example.com.
Our next Annual Meeting will take place on Friday, May 7 - Saturday, May 8, 2021 at the Hyatt Regency Seattle in Seattle, Washington. Mark your calendars for another great educational program, networking and exchange of knowledge with your colleagues.
ASMH’s Mohs Technician Training Program continues to move forward in 2020. We now have a total of 14 trainers with more applicants pending review. This program is intended to promote a higher national standard to our profession. It offers customized training to Mohs techs in need of improving or honing their skills and technical knowledge. Learn all aspects of Mohs frozen sectioning technique, along with “pearls,” from an experienced, ACMS-approved trainer. If you or your Mohs surgeon are interested, please contact the ASMH office.
Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, all 2020 extension training at vendor locations have been cancelled. We are hopeful to offer these trainings in the future. Please watch the website for future training opportunities in 2021.
I encourage all members to get involved at any level by maintaining your annual membership, attending the Annual Meeting, volunteering to help with the program committee, submitting a newsletter article, presenting a lecture at the Annual Meeting, or by running for a leadership position. I have been involved with the ASMH since 2002. The technical and scientific knowledge I have gained and the lifelong friends I have met along the way have made ASMH membership a wonderful experience for me both professionally and personally. So again, get involved and encourage anyone else you know, whether new to the profession or a seasoned tech, to see what the ASMH can do for them. You will be glad you did!
I would like to say thank you to our current and new members. Your ongoing continued support and participation is valued and vital to this organization. Together we can continue to make the ASMH a great resource for all our members. Again, thank you for the opportunity to lead the ASMH. Enjoy the rest of your summer! Stay safe and well.
Daniel H. Gong, MS, MSO, C-PM
Team Building During COVID-19
Camille McKay, M.Ed. BSHCA, HTL, CLT - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Mohs technicians working from home during a pandemic? This is unheard of. How is such a thing even possible for people so closely tied to an actual physical location? But during trying times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, “we” as a team had to think on our toes. At a time when other institutions were laying off or furloughing staff, how could we prove that we represented the term “essential” as much as those tasked with working the front lines of our industry?
Being the manager of the regional Pathology/Mohs lab, I needed to think quickly and meet with staff (virtually, of course!) as we brainstormed together on how to work productively from home as our labs were being sidelined by the crisis. We came up with many suggested projects to work on which involved the team working out of their comfort zone, including myself. As Mohs Technicians, as well as other lab personnel, know, our expertise and experience does not begin and end at the door to our lab. Information is as much the lifeblood to our profession as is the actual tissue we prepare and process. We became a unit for sharing knowledge and experiences; to review procedures and policies that impact our operation. We finally found the time to engage and discuss the things that we are always too busy to do when the lab is in constant use. We regrouped and came together in isolation as a unit. Apart, yet together. It was a very unusual, but exciting time, during which everyone was stressed about the pandemic, yet managed to work from home on the projects that were assigned to each of them; coming together to develop ideas and prepare plans for the future of the lab.
At our institution, we have multiple Mohs sites located in different parts of the tri-state region, and usually at the ASMH Conference my team comes together to socialize and share their “shop” stories. This work from home project allowed the Mohs team to literally become one and rely on their colleagues' input and assistance to complete the work from home tasks we developed, implemented, and accomplished together.
So...yes, technical personnel can become excellent work from home employees because we came to understand that our boundaries are not physical, our team is a unit that functions in unison no matter where we are working from. This experience has helped us grow and become a strong, cohesive TEAM. Thank you to the doctors and to my wonderful staff for creating this experience.
An Innovative Solution to a Cryostat Nightmare
Melinda Chow, MS, HT(ASCP)CM - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
One of the biggest nightmares of the Mohs Histotechs is to walk into the lab when the cryostat has not been turned on. It happened to me over a long holiday break when the nursing staff forgot to turn on the cryostat the day before. In this private dermatology office where I work, all Mohs surgeries are scheduled once a week.
When I arrived that morning, the cryostat had to be turned on and it needed to be cooled down quickly to -25 degrees Celsius in 10 minutes. Two cases were scheduled that day at 9 AM. I tried pouring liquid nitrogen and spraying with a cooling spray into the chamber of the cryostat to speed up the cooling process, but it does not help much. The inside of the chamber must cool down before sections can be taken but that takes time. The cryostat needs minimum four hours to cool all the components inside the chamber.
Subsequently, I did some research and found a better and easy solution to this problem. I found a smart switch, T-P switch, app that can be downloaded onto your cell phone to control the cryostat. This app connects the cryostat power switch to the smart switch and can be used to turn the cryostat on/off remotely from your cell phone. Make sure the technical specifications of the smart switch match the criteria of your cryostat. You can turn the cryostat on remotely from your cell phone. But the cryostat door must still be closed by someone in the office.
Alternatively, you can install a secure camera where you can login from your cell phone to view if the cryostat has been turned on the day before the Mohs surgery day. This will allow you to view the cryostat from anywhere before you come to work. If the cryostat has not been turned on, you can alert someone in the office to have it turned on. It's prudent to check this ahead of time because the nursing staff is usually busy and sometimes, they forget to turn the cryostat on.
ASMH Board of Directors Nominations Now Open
Nominations are now being accepted for two positions on the 2021 ASMH Board of Directors. In early 2021, the membership will elect one Secretary-Treasurer and one Director. Terms for each position will begin at the conclusion of the 2021 Annual Meeting.
Candidates for the office of Secretary-Treasurer must have served at least one full term on the Board of Directors prior to election. The Director will serve a three-year term.
Nominations for both positions must be received by the ASMH office no later than Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Self-nominations are accepted. Elections will take place via electronic voting beginning in February 2021.
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.
Take Advantage of the Mohs Surgery Career Center
Visit the online Mohs Surgery Career Center to see our Featured Jobs. You can also find or post open histotech positions. ASMH members can search openings, post resumes and connect with employers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help accessing member pricing.
Submit an Article for the ASMH Winter Newsletter
We're 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 a few general ideas to get you thinking:
- Achievements: Any recent accomplishments or recognition?
- Community Engagement: How do you spread the word about ASMH & Histotechnology?
- Education and certification: How did you or will you prepare for HT or HTL certification?
- Trends: How do you and your colleagues keep up with what’s new in the field?
- Jargon: What technical shorthand have you picked up, used or created?
- Equipment: Any new tools, technology or tips for using them in your lab?
- Quality Control: How do you deal with standards, enforcement, charts and more?
- Records: Paper or electronic, what do you do to keep clear, organized records?
- Safety: How do you ensure safety around chemical and biological hazards 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 email@example.com with your ideas or submissions! As always, thank you for your involvement in the ASMH!
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 better negotiate your salary with your current employer during the performance appraisal process. This information can also assist you with future job search efforts.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to the bibliography and find new COVID-19 resources: Laboratory Biosafety & Coronavirus Disinfection in Histopathology.
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.
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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.