Routes to becoming a histotech

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From:Lynn Gardner <>
Date:Tue, 04 May 1999 10:40:59 -0400
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Dear All,

I have been following the discussion on the Associates Degree and have
mixed emotions about the whole issue and some questions. First the questions:

1. Will the high school route that you had to have X number of science and
math credits prior to entering a one year CAHEA accredited school still be

2. Will Histologic Technicians that do not have their AS degree but do have
their HT (ASCP) have to do anything special to maintain their classification?

Now for the emotions:

I am a histotech that went the high school route and into a one year CAHEA
accredited school and I have been a technician for over 16 years now and
feel I am very good at what I do and I really enjoy it. In the program I
attended I received lectures along with hands on from day one of the
program. After working with many students fresh out of the two year
associate degree programs I would take the one year CAHEA student any day. 

The main difference I see between the two is the amount of hands on
training. This really makes a significant difference as you can have all
the book knowledge in the world and can still not gross, process, embed,
cut and stain tissues correctly, believe me I have seen it time and time

If we are to require a two year program we must take a look at those
programs and make sure that there is sufficient time devoted to actually
performing the tasks of the laboratory and that the quality and precision
of the art is maintained throughout so that we are not putting out students
that can tell you what to do but can not actually perform the task or
troubleshoot it for themselves!!! We as an organization should set up
criteria that all new histology technicians must meet to gain their
Histology degree. It should be the same for all institutions so that there
is more uniformity from institution to institution as I have seen some
really horrible histology out there which also doesn't help our reputation.
In standardizing things we will also help to get rid of the idea out there
that "any monkey can perform Histology", yes, I have actually heard this
said, and hopefully improve the reputation of the Histologist.

The other fear I have is that there is already a severe shortage of
histology technicians in the field and the high school route brings in
probably at least 40% of our histology technicians. This will cause even
more of a shortage in the field, ah, yes it will allow the ones in the
field to work where the want and the amount of money they make to go up,
but, I don't know about you I don't want to have to work 60-80 hours a week
to keep up! The other thing the shortage may do which is happening in the
field already is that Medical Technologist will take over histology
positions which could eventually eliminate all of our jobs.

I do agree we need to change the way physicians and other laboratorians
look at us, however, I am not sure this is the way to do it, as many good
technicians have come out of the high school route as they find they love
the work.

Just thought I would add my two cents and give us some things to think about.

Lynn Gardner, HT(ASCP)
Supervisory Research Assistant III
FC Blodi Eye Pathology Laboratory
The University of Iowa

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