Re: size requirements

From:Barry Rittman <>

I agree with you about this.
This really points out a major flaw in the testing system.
What the system is supposed to do is to test individuals as to their  level of
What it does is precisely what you have indicated.
When I took my examination (will not mention the date back in antiquity) in the
UK we went to a center where people from several areas took the examination.
There were problems in that some pipettes were clogged with grease as they were
new and had not been cleaned. However, all the students were in the same boat.
We were given paraffin blocks  to cut, mount and stain with both H and E and
other stains (known as "special stains" in the USA). We were left to
individually organize how we would do this and this varied from student to
student. I think that this would be called "multi tasking". We were then
evaluated on the end products and orally questioned about these and about our
This format is truly an examination of the ability of the applicant. If problems
occur during the examination, can the student improvise and take care of them?
I have always felt that sending a set of slides into the examination center with
the signature of a pathologist that this is all your own work has some serious
flaws. Is this all your own work, the pathologist may not know but will be
reluctant to deny signing the form. Have you spent a time that is comparable
with that spent by other students on their slides? How available is the tissue?
Is the processing schedule that you use comparable, if not are you able to
change it?
It is easy to criticize when you do not have to organize it and the examinations
that are in place are probably the best that can be done considering the size of
the country that we live in. Having said that I would like to  see a nationwide
system in which standardized tissues can be given to students to prepare their
sections. While I would like to see students tested together in a real live
situation I can see the logistics of this are horrendous.

"Coskran, Timothy M" wrote:

> The message below details a problem that I don't think should exist for
> people taking the HT or HTL exams.  Why is it that some individuals
> preparing for the exam are tested not only for their histology skills but
> for their ability to locate a particular piece of tissue?  Locating could
> come down to how many desperate phone calls or emails they can send looking
> for tissue, because even though they may have piece of thyroid or a piece of
> cervix its not the "correct size".  I don't understand why there is a size
> requirement.  I've worked in a small hospital setting and a research
> setting.  Being able to come across all the required tissues with the needed
> size requirements can be tough.  That shouldn't be the tough part of the
> practical.  The challenge should be obtaining quality sections with quality
> stains.  Why would it be wrong for someone working with murine tissue to
> take 3 mouse kidneys and put them into one block and perform a PAS.   I
> would also think that some of the more challenging aspects of histology have
> everything to do with size, that is small dimensions.  Being able to
> sections liver, prostate, FNA's, and sectioning cell blocks, require a great
> deal of skill and patience.  I think the BOR should get rid of the size
> requirements and/or do more to help out the people who are trying to get
> certified.  Provide blocks.  I understand you that the BOR wants to test an
> applicants ability to fix and process a piece of tissue.  However, how may
> techs that join a new lab and want to take the HT are  involved in coming up
> with the lab's tissue processing schedule.  This has most likely been
> established and the blocks that they would submit are, in most cases, going
> to follow a processing schedule that the applicant did not establish.
> an occasional 2 cents
> Tim Coskran HT, HTL
> Pfizer
> I know this is a long shot but the tech in the lab I work in is currently
> doing her HT practical and needs thyroid that isn't autolysed.  We work in a
> small hospital, not many thyroidectomies or posts, and everything we've come
> up with isn't suitable.  We tried a neighboring hospital with no luck.  She
> needs a 1.0x1.0 piece of thyroid asap as her slides have to be sent in next
> Friday, March 16.  We're in MA and would be happy to pay shipping, etc.  If
> anyone can help, please respond off net and we can figure out logistics.
> I realize I'm asking the impossible!
> Thanks.
> Nancy

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