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