Clinical lab paper
December 12, 2012 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I need to write a paper for my clinical laboratory sciences class, but being that the teacher was unclear in her instructions, I'm not sure what qualifies as a separate laboratory and what doesn't. Something like " the hematology lab" is very broad. Can I focus on JUST histology, for example? Is there such a thing as a histology laboratory, even if it's under anatomical sciences? Or does that refer to a technique. What to do here? How would you structure this paper? Any advice is appreciated.

The prompt is as follows: (3-4 pages)
Introduction: tell me about a particular clinical laboratory of interest to you.
Body of Paper: tell what tests are done there, what technology/instruments may be in there,and what possible diseases are being diagnosed or ruled out in that lab.
Sumaary: End with how this laboratory area may monitor certain conditions and diseases as patients are being treated with various therapies. And/Or tell me what new technological advances may be in the near future in that particular lab (heme, micro, chemistry, etc.)
References: Please provide at least 4 references with at least one being from a scientific journal.
posted by marsbar77 to Science & Nature (17 answers total)
Uh Dude. Call the instructor and ask.

This is not one of those things where you want to guess, or take a poll on the internet. Ask her what approaches have been successful in the past.

You can stack the deck, and you should. If she's not available, ask your lab TA his/her opinion.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:54 AM on December 12, 2012

Yeah, you definitely need to go to the source for this one; you really just cannot get a definitive answer otherwise. Trust me, a professor would much rather you ask a question (yes, even if you think it's a stupid one) than not. That's what she's there for! Make use of that resource.
posted by cellar door at 8:58 AM on December 12, 2012

I would't call the professor, but that's only because I would email them or go to their office in person instead. Answering the sort of questions you have is a core part of a professor's job, it's not an imposition on your part to ask for clarification on an assignment. Is there a reason why you can't get your questions answered by the professor herself?
posted by Scientist at 9:02 AM on December 12, 2012

There is, actually. Not a good one, but there is. This paper is very late and though she let me hand it in ( medical reasons), I don't want to embarrass myself by asking what's probably a very basic question at this point ( the very end of the semester). Shot myself in the foot with that one, but there it is.
posted by marsbar77 at 9:05 AM on December 12, 2012

For me, reading that prompt, it sounds like she wants you to talk about a specific Lab. Like "Dr. Jones' Lab at the University of Stuff 'n' Things". Not a type of lab like "histology", but an actual, specific, particular, physical Lab that does specific science. Or maybe a particular imaginary Lab, but it sounds like she wants you to talk about an actual place.
posted by brainmouse at 9:12 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Instructors are, in general, far less bothered by late papers than undergrads think they are. They may have strict anti-lateness policies in place to create incentives for timely completion, and they may be rigorous about the kinds of exceptions they allow, but that doesn't mean your prof is actively mad or judging you for being late on the paper. You should just email or (ideally) stop by office hours, because I guarantee you that (s)he would far rather that you get this right than that you turn in a completely wonky off-base assignment that (s)he then has to figure out how to grade.

With that said, it sounds to this outsider as though the assignment is designed to get you to think about the practical institutional context for medical testing-- not just what the tests are in isolation, but where they're done, who does them, what logic is used to organize testing over the field more broadly, etc. So "a clinical laboratory" would mean the particular room/wing in a hospital or testing center where people in white coats do x/y/z tests. If you don't know what those rooms or wings are and how that stuff is broken down, then this assignment is probably partly about your finding out. This might be a good time to think about sources-- did your instructor give you any specifics for what kinds of sources are expected for the 3 non-scientific-paper slots? Do you know where you're supposed to acquire this information-- by calling around or interviewing, by looking at trade journals, by consulting with practical supervisors, whatever? Anything your prof has told you about the writing process is likely to be a good clue to the expected final result.
posted by Bardolph at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2012

I think brainmouse has it. If you're too scared to ass the proff about it ask one of the other students.

But really, just stop by her office and say "Hi, just wanted to make sure I understand. This means [what brainmouse said]?" She'll say yes, or no, it means... and you go on your way and do the paper.

biggest problem students run into is being afraid to ask their teachers things.
posted by edgeways at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2012

I would be annoyed if I had a student handing in a paper late who had not worked out basic structural things by this point in time. I would be even more annoyed if I had a student handing in a paper late that did not address the prompt. ASK.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I get the hint about asking. But really, I just need a definitive answer to whether histology labs exist- everything else I can work out.
posted by marsbar77 at 9:49 AM on December 12, 2012

Histology labs exist to teach medical students histology and nothing more. No diseases are treated or monitored or anything else. Histology is the study of normal microscopic anatomy. Pathology is the microscopic study and/or diagnosis of disease (excepting gross pathology where autopsies are performed, the micro part comes after).
posted by karlos at 9:52 AM on December 12, 2012

Another option would be to ask a classmate what their take on it was.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:29 AM on December 12, 2012

I worked in a medical center laboratory for 10+ years, in administration. Make of this what you will, but in that laboratory:

-- The entire lab was called the "Pathology Laboratory"
-- Each section of the lab was called by its function -- hematology, microbiology, core lab
-- The place where surgical specimens were processed and made into slides was called histology.
-- The place where pap smears, needle biopsies, etc were processed was called cytology.

Since your instructor mentions those sections specifically in the prompt, I would take it to mean choose a specific area to write about, not a particular facility's lab.

I agree that the best and safest thing to do is to ask your instructor or maybe someone else who has completed the assignment but, barring that, the above would be my take on the assignment.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 12:35 PM on December 12, 2012

Histology labs definitely exist, as SweetTea said, that's where the surgical pathology specimens are put on slides and stained.

Based on what is says in the "summary" section, it sounds to me like you are supposed to pick a specific area like heme ("that laboratory area" and "particular lab (heme, etc.))."
posted by Missense Mutation at 1:12 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Sweettea in that my lab has many 'departments' under one roof, which is normal; at least I thought it was until you asked this question.

-You could consider 'send-out' labs as separate (Mayo, Quest Diagnostics), however they still equate to many, many kinds of testing under one roof.
--PubMed article about send-out labs

-The Medical Examiner's office
-You might consider the WHO or CDC
-FBI forensic laboratory

Each has their own way of collecting and disseminating information as well as their own individual techniques, equipment, diseases, and patients; all of which easily fall under the overall topic.

I've never heard of a histology lab out on it's own though (to answer your question directly) unless it was apart of private research (something like the 'Anginera Heart Patch' which is utterly fascinating) or grad/post-grad research.
-Dr Kellar's PDF seminar detailing the patch.
-UNC School of Medicine's histo research website
posted by MansRiot at 1:13 PM on December 12, 2012

OP, what country are you in?

In the UK all laboratory medicine comes under the title "Pathology" but has been traditionally divided broadly into four disciplines: Haematology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Cellular Pathology (including cytopathology & histopathology). Many hospitals will consider each of the four a separate laboratory, though this isn't a strict rule - increasingly haematology and biochemistry labs are combining into "blood sciences" or similar labs. Some particularly large hospitals might have cytology and histopathology considered as separate laboratories, but that would be unusual.
posted by *becca* at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2012

Uh, if histology labs don't exist, I have a completely imaginary job. Perhaps, if you want to be really pedantic, it's a histopathology lab (I think that's what karlos is referring to?). But that's a really long word to say, so nobody calls it that. We call it the histology department. It's the processing of tissue specimens for examination under the microscope to diagnose and stage disease.
posted by chiquitita at 3:10 PM on December 12, 2012

Thanks all- I've decided to play it safe and focus on heme, as that seems to be the most well-defined area and designation.
posted by marsbar77 at 4:05 PM on December 12, 2012

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