Re: [Histonet] HT schools

From:Jennifer MacDonald

There are two routes to become eligible for the HT (ASCP) exam.  One is 
successful completion of a NAACLS accredited program and the second is an 
AS degree (60 semester hours with 12 semester hours being science classes 
(biology and chemistry)) and one year full time acceptable experience in a 
histology laboratory.  The experience is to include fixation, processing, 
microtomy and staining.  NAACLS accredited programs can be either hospital 
based or college based.  The hospital based programs have the advantage of 
training their students at their facility.  College based programs have on 
campus labs, clinical rotations, or a combination of the two.  Our program 
combines classroom experience and clinical work experience.  Our student 
laboratory has 6 embedding centers and 24 microtomes.  Our students learn 
to stain by hand, both H&E and specials.  They also learn to coverslip by 
hand.  Most of our clinical sites are automated so they get the automation 
experience in clinical rotation.

On-line histotechnology programs were designed to help the person that has 
been working in the histology laboratory but cannot attend a formal 
program due to scheduling and time constraints.  These are NAACLS 
accredited programs so they meet the standards of any NAACLS accredited 
program.  The didactic (book learning) portion is taught on-line and the 
students are given practical assignments to complete in their laboratory. 
These are sent to the instructor of the on-line program. There are minimum 
education requirements for these programs.  I think that it would be safe 
to say that most applicants going this route have lab experience already 
and the practical portion does not fall under the OJT definition as we 
knew it.

I don't think that the loss of the practical portion of the HT exam has 
made any difference in the caliber of the applicants that are passing the 
exam.  To meet either route 1 or 2 the applicant will need to turn in 
practical slides to an instructor.  Having graded slides for the ASCP I 
can tell you that my students are held to the same or higher standard for 
their practical work.

As for getting students into HT programs marketing is key.  There are 
still many people that are not aware of Histotechnology as a viable and 
rewarding career.  Our program will accept 24 students per year.  The 
classes filled in the first few days of registration and we have a wait 
list of students trying to get into the program.  We market to students at 
the college that are interested in science careers.  We send a flyer to 
students enrolled in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and 
medical terminology.  Many are undeclared majors that know they want 
something in science/healthcare but are not aware of all of the options. 
We also attend high school career fairs and career fairs for other 
colleges.  We are invited to the other colleges because they do not have a 
histo program and want to expose their students to career choices.  We 
also have a very healthy advisory committee that promote the program to 
employees in the labs that are presently not eligible for certification. 
As our graduates infiltrate the field there is also a good "word of mouth" 
recommendation from the grads.  We also participate in a medical careers 
conference each year to promote the clinical laboratory sciences, with 
emphasis on histotechnology.  Our college offers counseling classes for 
students to decide on a career path.  I speak in these classes and invite 
the classes to the histo lab when the students are working.  We also send 
career brochures to the guidance counselors in the high schools in the 
college area.  Making students aware is vital to getting them to enroll.

At the present time there is less than one program per state, not near 
enough to produce the histotechs needed.   I would encourage anyone to 
start a program if the resources are available.  Peggy Wenk has given 
workshops on how to set up a program.

Jennifer MacDonald
Director, Histotechnician Training Program
Mt. San Antonio College
1100 N. Grand Ave.
Walnut, CA 91789
(909) 594-5611 ext. 4884
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