Online Course

Special stains

The online course is designed to educate students on the various specials stains routinely used within histology. It is an essential part of the job to be aware of which stain can be used on a certain type of tissue in order to observe key elements and diagnose conditions.

For example, a scientist may perform a PAS stain on a section of a liver where the section will highlight the PAS positive architecture. Based on this section a pathologist/scientist can make an accurate diagnosis which can include glycogen disorders, infections and even some cancers.

Band 4 members of the histology laboratory routinely carry out these stains independently and should be aware of rationales of procedures.


The process of Immunocytochemistry (IHC) requires antibody-antigen reaction as opposed to special stains which is cell staining based. Centred on a targeted protein/ DNA interaction IHC is commonly used to identify different types of cancer.

This course will take you on a tour of the process of IHC and how the various antibodies distinguish different cell lines.

This is an advanced level qualification which may be required for band 5 interviews however the course is open to individuals wishing to improve their skill set.

Interview techniques

Laboratory interviews can be daunting, especially if you have little or no experience of working within a laboratory setting.

This course will go over some of the common questions that arise in an interview for band 3 and 4 roles. You can expect to learn how to answer these questions by going through the learning material and taking our mock interview at the end of the course.

This course will assist with the following:

  • How to answer the common questions in laboratory interviews using the STAR technique in scenario-based questions.
  • Learning about the governing bodies that employers would like you to be aware
  • Become aware of practical assessments that may arise at the interviews.
  • Learn when to refuse signing cases out of the laboratory by using your own judgment and discretion.

Have a go at the question below and test your knowledge

A case has arrived in the laboratory and is querying a Pneumocystis jiroveci, a type of micro-organism known to cause pneumonia. Which special stain would you perform and what would you expect to observe under a microscope?

A) Pneumocystis jiroveci is a type of fungi and usually infiltrates the lungs causing pneumonia. The correct stain to perform would be a ‘Grocott hexamine silver‘ stain. This stain relies on an argentaffin reaction which means the fungi cells can reduce a silver solution to metallic silver forming a black tissue element of the fungi.

Under a microscope whilst viewing the section you would expect to see a green background with black fungi ‘string’ like areas. These are called Hyphae and can measure between 3 to 6 microns.

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