RE: histotechs pay etc

From:"Weems, Joyce"

Very well said - should be an published in the Journal!

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Morken, Tim []
> Sent:	Wednesday, August 29, 2001 9:50 AM
> To:	'Histonet'
> Subject:	RE: histotechs pay etc
> Barry, 
> These comments apply primarily to medical-based histotechnology. As you
> are
> no doubt aware by now the formally trained histotech is a rarity in the
> US.
> In my 19 years in the field I have met only one on the job (out of 30+
> co-workers over the years)! So, for us it is really a matter of OJT or
> nothing. Because histotechnology was dropped from med tech programs
> decades
> ago we have muddled through with whoever happens to walk into a histo lab
> and shown some interest - for whatever reason! Because of THAT, hiring
> college educated people nowdays is an imperative, not a luxury. No one
> without exposure to modern college molecular biology and chemistry will
> have
> a chance at doing well in a histotechnology career (by that I mean
> advancing
> beyond cutting and staining slides).
> I was appalled at the situtation in the histology lab when I was first
> exposed to it. I started in electron microcopy ( I have a AS degree in EM
> and a BA in Zoology), and never even heard of histology until the day I
> got
> a job at a hospital. I had to deal with the lab in the course of my EM
> work,
> but I very soon realized that the people working there were not like the
> med
> techs on the clinical side. Instead they were, for the most part,
> OJT-trained ex-dishwashers and food-line workers and barely high-school
> educated. I found that only one out of four had any training at all and
> was
> an HT. All the same, I gradually gained respect for what they did and
> trained under them to get my HT and HTL. I'm sorry to say that as I
> advanced
> under their tuteledge, they stayed exactly where they were. Not
> necessarily
> because of lack of trying (one guy passed the HT practical but took, and
> failed, the HT written exam 5 times) but rather because they had
> absolutely
> no theoretical background education to draw on to fuel an advance.
> I was very lucky that the pathologist I worked for was interested in
> improving the lab and made the effort to get people trained (and paid out
> of
> his own pocket). Some of us did well, others didn't, but no one can say
> they
> didn't have the opportunity. As time went on the pathologist decided to
> only
> hire people with science degrees. The quality of the lab work increased
> dramatically from that point on (BTW, no one was fired, just normal
> turnover).
> I was then lucky enough to get a job working in Saudi Arabia and there I
> was
> exposed to histotechs from many other countries. I was astounded to find
> that ALL were well trained far beyond even the most well-intentiond OJT
> tech
> from the US (such as your's truely). At the minimum they had specialized
> two-year lab-specific training. Most were med techs with a specialization
> in
> histotechnology. The techs in the lab from the US were universally poorly
> educated in histotechnology (despite their various degrees)compared to
> those
> techs from other countries. That experience really opened my eyes to how
> poorly trained and educated the average histotech in the US really is. For
> the most part, even a degreed, certified tech, such as myself, is not well
> grounded in general medicine and pathology. If the general public knew the
> situation they would be appalled at the lack of quality of the training
> histotechs have.
> Because of what I have experienced I have absolutely no patience with
> those
> who claim that we can get by with high-school educated people in the lab.
> It
> is the height of absurdity to claim that  because the entry level of most
> histotech jobs involves "only" cutting and staining slides that we "only"
> need the most uneducated people to do the job. That is a guarantee that
> the
> lab will be staffed with incompetent people for the future, and is grossly
> unfair to the person you hire - that is, to put them in a job that they
> have
> no chance of succeeding at as a career (except maybe, with heroic
> attention
> to their own OJT education. Of course, even the heroic self-educator only
> learns what they need to know, not what could help them over the long
> term).
> Pathologists know they need well educated techs these days. Uneducated
> techs
> will only find jobs in routine cutting mills and will not be doing
> advanced
> procedures. If that's what someone wants, thats a personal choice, but the
> lab directors will be looking for educated people to to the advanced work.
> For instance, in the lab I am in now, if you don't have, at a minimum,  a
> degree and if you aren't an expert at immunochemistry you won't even be
> able
> to apply for a job.
> That being said, I feel the broad range of experience we have among techs
> in
> the US comes from the multitude of paths they took before their cance
> landing in the histology profession. I know that a med tech-specific
> program
> is best for the lab, but for the individual I think a broad science-based
> education is better for flexibility. So I wouldn't support a rigid program
> of education to get in to a lab job. Instead I like the idea of basic
> education requirements and then specializing once a field is chosen.
> Those who think a basic education requirement, like an associates degree,
> is
> just too much to ask are those who are on the way out the door. We will
> fill
> their spots with people who are educated and interested in the future, not
> the past. 
> Tim Morken
> Atlanta
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Barry Rittman []
> Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 4:30 PM
> To: histology
> Subject: histotechs pay etc
> Please delete if you are tired of hearing about this topic.
> Everyone who writes to the Histonet deserves some respect for taking the
> time to voice their opinion. If you have derogatory comments I
> respectfully suggest that you send them directly to the individual
> concerned, to send them to all of us is,  in my opinion unprofessional.
> There have been several comments about treatment of histotechs by
> pathologists.  It is dangerous to generalize. I have been treated well
> by some pathologists and felt part of the team and poorly by others. The
> latter were fortunately in the minority and often did this because of
> their ignorance of my role and my level of skill.  I consider that in
> such cases most will change their attitude if I make them aware of the
> role of the histotech and they will come to respect the histotech as a
> critical part of the team. This requires mutual respect and this is
> something that has to be developed. As a good example it is not
> appropriate to introduce lets say the pathologist as Dr. Haupsburg and
> the histotech as James. I regard this as a kind of one upmanship and
> demeaning to James,  Dr. Haupsburg and Mr. Jones would be more
> appropriate. If you are part of a team then it should be either first
> names (unless in front of patients) or appropriate titles. I cannot tell
> you how much this ticked me off before I got my PhD!!
> The histotech also needs to have self respect both for their own
> abilities and for the work they do.  If they do not then this is like
> the cartoon when one deer looks at the other and sees a target birthmark
> on their chest "bummer of a marking Joe".  You cannot expect others to
> respect you if you do not respect yourself. If you are not a continual
> student learning something every day then you may not be happy in your
> job.
> On the job training. I trained in England but have lived in the States
> 33 years and been a citizen for 25. I feel that I  have a slightly
> different perspective  than individuals who were born, raised and
> trained in the States.  I feel strongly that on the job training is
> often not a quantifiable item and that a formal training program is
> best. At least individuals who have gone through this training can be
> compared, apples to apples.  I appreciate the training that I received
> in England (although it is probably different now), where all trained
> initially as MLTs and then specialized in Histopathology etc. Initial
> training was one day a week and two evenings at classes for 3 years.
> Specializing another two years.  This time training was paid for by the
> employer. Exams were written, practical and oral examinations and often
> grueling. A set of questions on the practical allowed to you to
> determine your own schedule for clinical chemistry, histology,
> microbiology and so on. You were under stress (kind of like working in a
> lab?).
> Apples to apples. It is difficult in the States to compare individuals.
> Some labs provide superb experience and good OJT, others are pitiful in
> requiring maximum output with minimal or no training. What does 10 years
> experience mean? Can an individuals who has ten years of work whose
> skills can be mastered in a year be considered to have ten years
> experience? I don't think so. I think that they have one years
> experience ten times over.
> Until employers realize the skill necessary for histotechnology then
> salaries will not increase much. Neither will there be recognition for
> the need of formal training to start with and continual training over
> the entire career. Training that is supported both  philosophically and
> financially. Certification as mentioned by some of our colleagues in the
> UK recently would be a big step in that direction.
> In this era when the boundaries of histolotechnology, cytology,
> biochemistry and other disciplines are becoming less clear, I believe
> that it is time to look at our overall approach to histotechnology. As
> with most disciplines today the emphasis is "what do we need to know" or
> more correctly "what is the minimum we need to know". "If I read these
> notes will I pass the test".  I am convinced that I do a significantly
> better job because of the broad training I received as a MLT even
> though  I work in histology. Because of this "other training"  I look at
> things in a different light.  I believe that the splitting of MLTs,
> histotechs and  cytotechs in the States was a retrograde step. As far as
> I am concerned the broader the educational base and training the better
> off both the histotech and the employer.
> I would be interested to know if  there are histotechs out there who
> feel the  same.
> Thank you for your patience in reading this.
> Barry

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