[Histonet] RE: QIHC change

From:"Johnson, Teri"

James, et al,

Thank you for bringing lively discussion in an area I believe needs it.
I have worked for many years in clinical histology labs and now work in
the research environment. I have to admit, once I heard they had moved
this exam to a 50-question test, I signed up. Previously, I knew it
would be nearly impossible for me to do the practical exam with human
tissue samples since we don't have any here.  I took the exam last week
and have to say that while most of the questions were based on general
IHC knowledge, a couple of questions regarded clinical samples (cytology
specimens) not usually done in research, or were geared toward estrogen
receptor-type immunostaining.  Most of my issues with the exam related
to the wording of the question, or the choices given (I didn't always
agree with them, and one was ambiguous). I'm glad I now have a contact
to whom I can give my opinion of the exam, thanks James!

My conclusion was, the exam can be taken successfully by research techs
with a strong background in IHC, and the clinical-only questions they
will miss will still give them enough margin to pass. (Provided, of
course, they meet the requirements.)  I agree as well that the
immunophenotyping requirement be phased out or reworded to show
knowledge of typical staining patterns for typical markers and not just
the leukemia/lymphoma ones.  Usually only the large hospital or private
IHC labs do these types of panels, so even in the clinical arena this
type of experience isn't easy to get. The IHC techs aren' t the ones
interpreting these results, nor are they ordering the panels. At best
they run patient samples with known positive controls (mostly tonsil),
and order and work up new antibodies to run in these panels--which are
then evaluated by a pathologist for applicability.  How is that
different from any other marker run in an IHC lab?

Regarding the need for ASCP-certified techs in the research environment,
I agree with Tim that it should not necessarily be a requirement. I know
that an ASCP-certified tech has general knowledge of histotechnology and
has demonstrated skill with a microtome and staining techiques, and has
the certification to prove it. But that alone does not make them any
more qualified to work in the lab than someone with a BS or MS and
histotechnology experience but no certification.  Please don't think I'm
making the case for random hiring of non-certified techs. I believe
firmly in certifications for personal and professional growth.  I just
don't think the research environment should base their job requirements
on it.  My employment ad usually indicates the person we are looking for
be ASCP certified, or certification eligible. In the absence of the
certification, meeting minimum educational requirements is usually

Finally, I have not paid my dues to ASCP for a very long time and have
no plans to start doing so any time soon. I will eagerly hand over my
money to the NSH because they offer workshops and a publication that are
geared towards the profession.  Even the Advance magazine runs more
articles on Histology than the ASCP journal ever did.  Perhaps that has
changed, but somehow I doubt it.  I too would be steamed if I had paid
all this time and got no value for my $$$s.

Teri Johnson
Managing Director Histology Facility
Stowers Institute for Medical Research
1000 E. 50th St.
Kansas City, MO 64133

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