Re: ASCP tips

<< Previous Message | Next Message >>
From:Lee & Peggy Wenk <>
To:Michael Stumm <>
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=us-ascii

I'll try to explain, but this may take a little
time and space, so those who already know about
the ASCP registry exam can delete this.

ASCP is the American Society of Clinical
Pathologists. Clinical in this case means
hospital, versus veterinary. (However, people
doing histology on plants or animals CAN
take the exam. They just have to realize
that the exam questions are human patient

Besides being a U.S. organization for
pathologists, it is also one of the
organizations for lab techs, such as
Medical Technologists, Medical
Laboratory Technicians, Histotechnologists,
Histologic Technicians, Cytotechnologists
and Phlebotomists, as well as some
specialists. Med techs work in
clinical pathology (blood bank,
hematology, microbiology, urinalysis, etc.)
Technicians have between a high school
diploma and a 2 year associate degree,
while the technologist has a 4 year
baccalaureate degree. In theory,
technologists are supposed to be more
responsible for the more technical
procedures and the troubleshooting
problems, as compared to the technicians.

The ASCP Board of Registry (BOR) is
the part of ASCP that gives national
certification exams, a different
exam for each of the techs listed

The ASCP BOR exams are voluntary, for
the most part. Most states do NOT
require that lab techs take and pass
a certification exam, or any other
type of exam. Some laboratories require
this of the people they hire. In 
other labs, the techs decide they
want to take and pass the exam. Sometimes
it gives them more money, sometimes
it gives them a chance at higher
jobs (supervisor, etc.), sometimes it
is for self-esteem and pride.

The exams are 100 multiple choice questions,
now done on the computer at the 
Sylvan Key Learning Centers, so, no
you can't do it over your home or
work computer. In addition, histotechnologists
and histologic technicians also have
to turn in 9 different tissues with
various specials stains &/or H&E that
are graded. Each exam cycle, the tissue
and stains change. To pass, the histotech
must pass both the written and the practical

There are basically two ways to take an
exam. Successfully complete a NAACLS-
accredited lab program (these are 
accredited by the US government), OR
by having the appropriate amount of
college AND the correct number of years
of experience in the lab (on-the-job
training (OJT)). Most people in the
US are trained in histotechnology OJT.
There are only 21 active NAACLS
histotech programs still open in 
the entire US.

If someone from a foreign country wants to
take one of the ASCP BOR exams, they first
must meet the education requirement. If
college is a requirement, the foreign
transcript must be evaluated by one of 
the agencies OK'ed by ASCP BOR, to make
certain that the amount of college and
courses are US equivalent.

Then, they must meet the lab experience
criteria. However, ASCP BOR does NOT
accept clinical lab experience obtained in
a foreign country outside the US or Canada.
If the person completed a clinical training
program in a foreign country, this can
count as 1 year towards the number of years
of experience required. However, the number
of years working in a foreign lab do NOT
count. The years must be completed in the US
or Canada.

However, since OJT is allowed as a way to
qualify to take the exam, if someone is 
coming to the US with experience/training 
in histology, most US labs would hire them 
(there is a GREAT shortage here of histotechs),
 and then they could gain the years of US
experience, and then they could take the exam. 

To summarize the routes:

To take the Histologic Technician (HT)
exam, there are 3 routes:
1. Complete NAACLS-accredited histotech
2. Associate degree (60 semester hours)
with 12 of biology and chemistry AND
one year full time histotechnology experience
under a pathologist or equivalent (in other
words, a veterinary pathologist would be OK.)
3. High school graduate AND 2 years experience
in histotechnology experience under a
pathologist or equivalent. (NOTE: This route
is being phased out as of Jan. 2005.)

To take the Histotechnologist (HTL) exam
there are 2 routes:
1. Baccalaureate degree with 30 semester
hours biology and chemistry AND one year
full time experience in histotechnology under
a pathologist or equivalent.
2. Baccalaureate degree with above requirements
AND complete NAACLS-accredited histotech school.

The web page has the outline of the exam
content, though the outline if VERY sparse.
The five stain categories are: fixation, 
processing/decal, embedding/microtomy,
routine and special stains, and laboratory
operations, which is lab math, safety,
equipment, rules and regulations. Basically,
you need to know everything about all these
areas. All the fixatives, their chemicals,
how they work, when to use them, what happens
if they are made or used incorrectly. The
same for all the categories. Sorry I don't
go into more detail at this time. It would
take up too much room, and this is getting
rather lengthy as it is. It would take
a 3-6 hour workshop to cover this (true,
because I give 3-6 hour workshops on this.)

To join ASCP and receive their journals
and materials, you need to have passed
one of the ASCP BOR exams. 

However, the National Society for

is open to anyone interested in tissue,
tech or pathologist, US or foreign,
tissues from human, animal or plant,
ASCP BOR certified or not. NSH does NOT
give any histotech certification exams.
Instead, they work WITH the ASCP BOR
to write the exams and grade the slides.

If you need more information on the
ASCP BOR certification exams, contact
me personally at

and we can "chat" more.

No, I'm not on the ASCP BOR, but I
am the program director for a HT and
a HTL program, so I try to keep up
to date on the requirements.

Hope this has been of some help to you,
and to others.

Peggy A. Wenk, HTL(ASCP)
William Beaumont Hospital
Royal Oak, MI 48073

Michael Stumm wrote:
> I am interested to know what this exam for the ASCP title represents?
> Where do you take the exam and what kind of educational material apart from
> the literature listed under is usually learned or examined?
> Thanks
> Michael
> Michael Stumm, MD, Lab 405
> Department of Research
> Kantonsspital Basel
> Hebelstrasse 20
> 4031 Basel
> Switzerland
> phone: ++41/61/265 23 87
> email:

<< Previous Message | Next Message >>