histotechs pay etc

From:Barry Rittman

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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