[Histonet] Histonet Vacancies

From:"Dan Dan"

 I'll add my two-cents worth. It's hard to believe that after 25 years in
this business that the histotech "shortage" situation is pretty much the
same as it was long ago. There have certainly been improvements in education
and training of people in histology, but for the most part (99%??) people
just fall into histology rather than pick it at some point in school. In
fact, it is a very rare day when I meet someone who went to school for
histotechnology, At this date there is still only one school on the west
coast, and it is not the same school that existed for a while in Seattle!
The new one is in southern california. I looked into starting a
histotechnology course here in the SF Bay Area, but it takes a long while
with lots of justification and scrounging for equipment and if I wanted to
do it full time the pay would be half as much as I make now. I could do it
part time but then I'd be working 60-70 hours a week rather than 50 I do
now. For the time being I give presentations to the local junior colleges. I
may expand that to high schools. I know they are interested in getting
speakers, but finding the time...

I work in the biotech field as an IHC lab manger. We don't require
HT/HTL/QIHC (though would love to have them!)but it is still very difficult
to get experienced histotechs and nearly impossible to get experienced IHC
techs around here. Most of the people I interview are from the research
field who may have done some IHC at some point. And the ones who have good
IHC experience are making very high salaries that our company gags at
matching. It is not possible to recruit out of the Bay Area because the cost
of housing is so high that no one that is not already living here can afford
to move here. Even getting someone from southern cal is difficult -
justifiying relocation expenses is difficult. It is kind of a joke that the
experienced IHC techs know each other and spend their careers trading places
at the varioius companies. Anthony is quite right that it takes a lot of
effort to educate HR and upper management about the need for higher pay.
They really have a hard time justifying the same pay for a technologist that
a new PhD will also make.

On top of that we have loads of (legal) immigrants from Asia here and they
are quite willing to work for lower pay to get a start. It is very common to
have PhD level people, and even immigrant MD's (who can't get board
certified here, mainly due to lanquage difficulties) working as lab techs.
Who is going to hire a AA/BS histotech when they can get a PhD who is happy
to do the work and able to contribute to R&D at a higher level than most

There is a huge disparity between what hospitals and private diagnostic labs
pay. The local Kaiser labs and Univeristy hospital labs pay in the $35 per
hour range for basic histology. Senior IHC techs are in the $45 range. Those
places have unions which is why the pay is so high. On the other hand,
private labs will pay experieinced,certified people almost that much, but
new, inexperienced people may be paid $15-20/hr and the lab is not willing
to help them get to their HT/HTL because they don't want to pay them more,
and could lose them to the hospitals once trained. This is not speculation
but things I have had told to me first hand from techs who work in these

It is a little harder now for histotechs to be trained on the job due to the
AA requirement. Most OJT people I have met were working in the hospital at
some other job - lab assisant, dishwasher, etc before getting (accidently)
into histology. A person working on an AA is probably not working in those
jobs and probably does not even know a histology lab exists.

Obviously the need is to get exposure for histotechnology. The NSH makes
brochures and videos available and does a career day for high schools
students at the national meeting every year (I've helped at those). This is
a good foundation. But it will really take every state society and every
interested histotech to do SOMETHING to promote the field. Science teachers
at high schools are very interested in having working people come in to talk
about a field. If someone in every city could do that it would go a long way
towards promoting the field. Maybe the key is to have NSH come up with a
standardised presentation that anyone can give along with some props to make
it a tactile experience.

But, after the promotion you have to realize that it takes a huge amount of
initiative on the students part to follow through. They have to start work
on, or finish, an AA /BS degree, make contact with a lab that is interested
in training people, get the position, do on-the-job (maybe at the same time
as school) and THEN work on learning the matieral for an HT/HTL pretty much
alone. Their facing a 3 to 4 year process. Longer if they get a bachelors
degree. Key is finding labs to training that value HT/HTL certification.
Starting HT/HTL study groups would be a good way to get people motivated.
This is the kind of thing a state society can do. Individuals can to it as
well, but it helps to have a group for motivation.

Of course, that is why it has not happened - it depends too much on a few
super-motivated individuals. The schools don't hear of a demand and so do
not have programs. No programs means students never hear about it. Since
students don't hear about it they can't even consider it. A vicious circle.

Imagine if the schools had students asking about courses leading to
histotech certification or at least a chance at a job that leads to
certification. That gets the schools attention. Junior colleges especially
are very interested in providing trained people to the local job market. For
them jobs = program justification.

Think about it.

Dan in Danville (a pseudonom to allow free speech)

Dear Pam:

For a long time histologists have gotten the short end of the stick. I
believe that the current situation is a symptom of the problem and is due to
a history of underpayment.

We cannot solve the problem by artificial means. This country is based on
the free market system. We must work with the system not against it, but
first we must clearly understand the problem: Not enough techs, increasing
barriers to entry into the profession, lack of visibility, no central
planning to fix or even research the problem.

We need to work to bring up the wages of HTs all across the country. If we
do this, we will bring Histology to the attention of people in education at
the moment.

We can only get out of it by concentrating on increasing the number of
facilities that are prepared to take on new graduates and spend the time to
get their practical skills up to speed.

I think you are doing a valuable job bringing this situation back to the
surface. We need to keep the momentum up and not let it die on the vine of
this valuable forum as a forgotten conversation. So, I ask my peers: What
can we do to address this situation in an organized, effective manner? Who
in our profession is responsible for being our cheerleader?

Finally, Pam, I want to say for myself that I encourage all conversation.

I will never be offended by a question, and I will always try to answer
questions in a way that remembers there is a person behind it. No flame
retardant needed here.

I make my money from placing people on a temporary and permanent basis.

I am also a Histologist first and foremost and believe that patient safety
is number one and understaffed laboratories experience more mistakes.

Keep up the good work, Pam.

All my best,

Anthony Williams BSc. HT

Histotech Exchange LLC

19 Whitmore St.

Lexington, VA 24450

T 1 (302) 383 9780

F 1 (540) 463 3583


> I know this is a problem that has plagued facilities for years and I

> too have noticed a change in the past 2 years. Yes, the histology

> programs nationwide produce a great albeit small group of talented

> people every year but the pool of available histo techs for permanent

> positions has shrunk even more in recent years. At the risk of being

> "flamed" by travel companies I have to say that you are losing alot of

> techs to travel positions. In the past 2 years of all of the histo

> techs I have had contact with over half only want to work in permanent

> positions the rest either want to continue as travelers or become

> travelers. Think about it... they get a higher rate of pay, benefits

> and living expenses paid for. For these people it is a "better deal"

> than committing to one facility. As a matter of fact it is a "better

> deal" than a temp/travel position in any other field outside of

> healthcare. Facilities who take the "quick solution" of hiring travel

> techs are contributing to the shortage. May I offer some solutions? Some
creative hiring strategies?


> Here are some ideas I would like to share:

> 1. If you are using travel techs do it with a temp to perm clause -

> but be firm. If a tech works for you as a temp make sure they are at

> least considering converting to a permanent employee at the end of the

> contract. If not don't extend, have your travel company send someone

> else who would consider converting to a permanent position. And make

> questions about their intentions part of your interview process the

> same as you would if you were interviewing a candidate from out of

> state for a permanent position.


> 2. Human Resources - Many of your allied health recruiters don't seem

> to realize that histo techs don't grow on trees. So many times I see

> facilities lose great techs because the hiring process has dragged out

> and the candidate ends up taking a position with a facility that can

> move faster. Stay on top of your hr people especially once you know

> they have a histology candidate.


> 3. How about techs from Canada? There are alot of talented techs in

> Canada that are interested in moving to the states and the process is

> relatively easy due to NAFTA and the F1 visa.


> 4. How about techs that need sponsorship on an H-1 visa? I know alot

> of companies shy away from this alternative because of the length of

> time it can take to process a visa application but I think that if you

> take a look at the time it takes to find a tech at all against the

> time it would take to process an H-1 visa it is quickly becoming 6 of one

> half dozen of another. I mean what difference does it make if it

> takes up to 8 weeks to process an H-1 visa vs. 2-3 months to identify

> a histology candidate?


> Your best bet is to get with your Human Resources department and

> strategize, educate them on the challenges and shortages you are facing.

> Discuss some of these options or others you might come up with.

> I hope this helps!!


> Thank You!



> Pam Barker

> President


> Specialists in Allied Healthcare Recruiting

> 5703 Red Bug Lake Road #330

> Winter Springs, FL 32708-4969

> Phone: (407)657-2027

> Cell: (407)353-5070

> FAX: (407)678-2788

> E-mail: relia1@earthlink.net

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