If you are planning on going into a medical professional field and your school offers histology for undergrads, I highly encourage you to take it. The content is dense, but I believe it is a great preparatory course for several professional programs. I am happy to share with you a few tips that helped me with the course!

First off, let me explain. Histology, broken down, is the study of tissue. (hist/o = tissue, -ology = the study of). As many of us know, our tissues make up our organs. Studying histology allows us to understand the anatomy + physiology of our bodies better from a microscopic perspective. Learning how different cell types, fibers, and structural units that make up each structural element of the body is remarkable and a privilege!

Here is how I can help!

  1. Learn the terminology.

I can’t reiterate the importance of knowing WHAT you’re talking about enough. Knowing the difference between what endothelium & epithelium are may help you with a test question. Endothelium (endo- = inside) lines the inside of the blood vessels and has very diverse properties. Epithelium (epi- = above), is the usually the outermost layer of surfaces such as skin, glands, and lines ducts. What do reticular fibers do? Reticular means “to form a net” and that’s exactly what these fibers do. Reticular fibers form a meshwork for migration of immune cells throughout organs. What about looking at cancers? An ADENOcarcinoma is a glandular cancer. (aden/o = gland, carc/o = epithelial origin, -oma = tumor). When seeing abnormal tissue that is attempting for form glands, you’ll know instantly it is an adenocarcinoma.

2.  Know your stains.

The most basic stain (ok, maybe I shouldn’t use the term basic in this case), is H & E – hemotoxylin/eosin staining. That’s the stain that makes everything look purple/bluish. Knowing what stains darker and what stains lighter, or what stains with special stains will help you to determine what you’re looking at.

PAS – stains PINK/MAGENTA; stains carbohydrate (specifically glycogen).

Nissl staining – stains RER (nissl bodies in the nervous system).

Reticulin – stains highlights reticular fibers in the bone marrow.

If you know what you’re looking for, and what stain is attracted to chemically, it will make the process much more understandable.

nissl stain
nissl staining in the nervous tissue! 

3. Learn the cell types.

The digestive tract is full of different kinds of cells that are fundamental in the role of the organ. The stomach has chief cells, parietal cells, enteroendocrine cells among others. What do each of these things do? Where are they located? What do they secrete? What do they look like?

For example, parietal cells are “fried egg cells” with a small, centered nucleus, abundant cytoplasm, bubbly appearance, and are found in the gastric glands of the stomach. They secrete HCl, or stomach acid.

gastric chief and parietal cells
PC = parietal cells, CC = chief cells. Do the parietal cells remind you of a fried egg? 😀

4. Look for landmarks.

How do you know you’re looking at the gallbladder? What is distinct about the appendix? Where are the smallest, primordial follicles in the ovary? Finding distinct features about each organ will help you to determine what you’re looking at if you aren’t sure from 40x or more.

The gallbladder is highly folded with no submucosa.



The appendix is a muscular tube rich in GALT, or gut-associated lymphatic tissue. What is the cause of appendicitis? Why are appendectomies the medical solution? Think about it in relation to this slide!

appendix histo .jpg
appendix 4x. Pink = muscular layers, purple = GALT. 


The primordial, or most immature follicles are found around the ovarian cortex. They are smallest in size. As the follicles mature and get bigger, they also move inwards closer to the middle of the medulla of the ovary.

primordial follicles along the outer edge of the ovary, Graffian (or mature) follicle in the medulla. Notable size difference? *the oocytes, or egg cells, are found in the middle of the follicles; the small purple dots. 


5. Use available online resources.

Below are links to the websites I have used to help prepare me for lab practicals. There are plenty out there, but these were the most helpful to me.

Histology Guide – a virtual slide box with zoom capabilities, labeled diagrams, and thorough explanations. Helpful to view slides from lab at home on the computer.

Histology World – quiz resources, lecture outlines, and more slide images. Practical quizzes that help prepare for lab exams.

Blue Histology – description and visuals of more slides

knowledge is power 😀

I wish you all the best of luck in your studies, and I hope you learn to love histology as much as I did. It’s truly beautiful. As you learn it, this branch of biology, you will probably find yourself admiring the stain colors, and the seemingly-minute details of the human body.

PS: if you’re interested, read about my experience shadowing in PATH after I finished the semester of histology – something I recommend 😀

*Photo sources:

Nissl staining: New York University Medicine

Parietal cells: Austin Peay State University

Gallbladder: John’s Hopkins School of Medicine

Appendix: Concordia College, Moorhead

Ovary: University of South Wales

Header image is my own: taken at the University of North Dakota. Shows the corneal endothelium/iris junction. 


As my followers, you guys know I am a firm-believer in the importance in shadowing. In fact, I wrote a guide to shadowing a few months ago! Though I am still an undergrad and do not yet have to make a decision about what specialty I am choosing to pursue, I find that exploring different medical specialties has helped with my undergrad education, and will help me discover my best interests in the medical field I love so much.

As I have just finished histology, I wanted to explore the world of disease. After familiarizing myself with the normal appearance of tissue under the scope, I could not wait to see some forms of abnormal tissue.

Dr. L. began our time by showing me around the histochemical lab so I was able to observe the processing of the histological samples. In my histology course, we were taught the steps of processing & staining, but never actively fixated tissues ourselves. Being a visual learner, I found this very helpful!

One of the slides that had just finished its last step of processing was specially stained with reticulin stain which stains (YOU GUESSED IT) reticular fibers.

reticular fibers
Vitro Vivo’s image of reticular fibers

The doctor was concerned that the bone marrow biopsy would show a pathology of early myeloproliferative disease. This classification of disease can include bone cancers and other blood-forming pathology. Dr. L. explained to me that though many bone marrow biopsies are performed, many are not necessary and give negative test results. However, in this case, performing the biopsy may have caught an early stage of this patients’ disease. Though it is the sign of early disease for the patient, I am grateful I was able to view a slide of this special stain. Some other things I saw were H. Pylori slides, appendix slides, other stomach pathology, and a mouth lesion.

Dr. L was trained as a pathology resident, but also did a fellowship in hematopathology (blood/blood forming cellular pathology). The doctor I shadowed was passionate about his speciality and showed pride in work. He had a close relationship with the technicians in the laboratory and was clearly appreciative for the work they do which directly impacts his work. I would definitely have considered him a people-person, despite the stereotype that pathologists spend their days in the hospital basements in their offices 😉

Dr. L.’s dual binocular scope. A little bit of an upgrade from the ones I used in my lab! 

Again, I am so grateful for this experience and that the hospital I work for has been so gracious in teaching area students. If you had not gotten your feet wet in the hospital, do yourself a favor and explore the world of medicine. 😀 The connections you can make between your studies and applications are amazing!










Dr. Matt Koepke is an oral maxillofacial surgeon who has gone through dental school, and furthered his education in surgery. He has written a book on modern ethics, and specifically, what goes on behind the scenes in healthcare.

I won’t disclose the extent of the content or nature of his stories leaving you to experience it yourself, but I will tell you that it gives rise to some of the things we don’t think about (as both patients and providers), while a patient is sedated.

Dr. Koepke is an advocate for good, genuine practice and bringing back why we practice medicine. He identifies as an optimist, and his positive attitude throughout the book is contagious. I really appreciate the direction he is working toward in the field of medicine.

Who do I recommend for?

Anyone who has ever been a patient and those who practice/will practice medicine.

What else?

This is a quick-read (about 70 pages) and provides great insight in such little content. I am hoping Dr. Koepke writes more on this topic!

Find it on Amazon for $9.95. 

For those that choose to read or have read this book already, let me know what you think of this topic!

as always, happy reading!




It’s MONDAY, May 1st (what) and finals prep is in full swing. I have created a playlist of some of my favorite songs to both relax and motivate you. We are almost to the end. The goal is in sight! This combination of songs can only help 🙂

Click here to find the playlist on Spotify or enjoy from the list below!

  1. 4Her – Public
  2. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles
  3. Better Day – Joe Louis + Dominic Neill
  4. Eyes On Fire – Blue Foundation
  5. Future Looks Good – OneRepublic
  6. Hypnotized – Coldplay
  7. Find You – Zedd
  8. Rollercoaster – Bleachers
  9. Insane – Flume
  10. Anywhere – Dillon Francis, Will Heard
  11. Fresh Eyes – Andy Grammer
  12. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
  13. Corners – The Fray
  14. Passionfruit – Drake
  15. Midnight City – M83
  16. Moving On and Getting Over – John Mayer
  17. Paris – LOUDPVCK Remix – The Chainsmokers
  18. Ocean Drive – Duke Dumont
  19. Something About You (Odeza Remix) – Hadyn James
  20. Au Revoir – OneRepublic

Good luck to everyone on their finals! I hope you find yourself jamming while you prep 😉



There are never enough hours in a day to get everything done. Is anyone else with me there? Preparing meals ahead of time is usually in the busy human’s repertoire, but grabbing *healthy* snacks may not be. Here are my top 5 favorite snacks that require little prep (if any), won’t upset your stomach, or your wallet.

  1. Rx bars.

They fit in little pockets. They are usually made from under 5 wholesome ingredients. They’re high in protein. They’re also my favorite. Buy in bulk to save money. And if you’re first trying them, get a variety pack so you discover which are your favorites! Peanut butter and coconut chocolate are mine.  🙂 Find them here!

PS: to my fellow RX bar lovers, they have three new flavors!

2. Bananas

High in carbs. Full of potassium (an electrolyte) to replace when you’re going to sweat. Sweet. Comes in its own package 😀 Have one before a workout for easily digestible carbs for quick energy OR add some peanut butter for protein and you have a post workout refueling snack.

3. Cucumber slices 

High in water. Extra crunchy. Goes perfectly with whole grain crackers and cheese as as mini sandwiches! Slice the night before or while meal prepping and store in an air-tight container ready to grab and go!

4. PB & J

Carbs, protein, sweet, minimal prep. Make it the night before and store in an air-tight container/bag. Use whole grain bread, a natural peanut butter, and smashed raspberries as your ‘J” 😀

5.  Mixed nuts 

Full of protein and healthy fats, crunchy, satiating and super portable. Buy in bulk to save money and mix yourself to control the ratio! (My favorites are almonds, walnuts, and pecans). Measure out a serving size the night before!

Some of my other favorites include carrot sticks, yogurt (if you have a spoon), whole grain crackers, and grapes – but don’t limit yourself there! As always, get creative with the process – and PLAN AHEAD! 😀



Dessert-themed smoothies make the experience even better. You’re getting a lot of the flavor you get in your favorite treat, without all the empty calories, and WITH a bunch more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you’re really feeling like you want to “treat yoself”, top this one with a little coconut whipped cream! 😉

*recipe is vegetarian*

I N G R E D I E N T S:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 c. vanilla almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 c. plain (or vanilla) yogurt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey (for sweetness)

*for extra protein, add 1 scoop of preferred protein powder

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Blend and enjoy, as always!



Fill your morning with fiber, veggies, protein, and complex carbs that will keep you going until it’s time for lunch (or your mid-morning snack if you’re like me!). Americans have a funny misconception of eating sugary things such as cereals and pastries for breakfast, and I don’t know about you, but those things don’t fuel me very well.

This recipe is quick, full of nutrients, and will start your day off the right way! 😀

OH and guess what? I found a new way to make quesadillas – and it does not involve any oil! (and it’s quicker)!

*recipe is vegetarian*

Y O U  W I L L  N E E D:

  • 1-2 eggs or 2-3 egg whites
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla (or corn if you’re GF)
  • 1/2 c. broccoli florets
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheese of choice
  • 1/4 c. corn
  • 1-2 tbsp black beans
  • 1/2 c. spinach, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 c. bell pepper, diced


  1. Place tortilla on a heat-safe plate and place in the broiler of the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Take tortilla out of the broiler and flip it over. Add about half the cheese to the top.
  3. Return to the broiler for about 2-3 mins or until it turns a little brown!
  4. Sauté the broccoli & peppers with a little bit of olive oil.
  5. Add black pepper, garlic powder, and any other dried herbs of choice.
  6. Add eggs to your sautéed veggies. Scramble them up!
  7. Turn off the heat when the eggs are thoroughly cooked
  8. Spread a thin layer of hummus over over the inside of the quesadilla (optional)
  9. Add egg filling to the inside of the tortilla along with a layer of corn and black beans
  10. Fold the top of the tortilla over the filling – top with extra cheese!
  11. Use a pizza cutter to cut into triangles
  12. Serve with salsa if you wish!


Be creative and use whatever kind of veggies you prefer. You can swap black beans for pinto beans, add tomato and onion, or garnish with fresh cilantro! *and avocado is always good.

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Happy eats!