Future of Histotechs

From:"Jasper, Thomas"

Dear All,

I have been following this thread with much interest.  I really believe the
registry eligibility change that is going to take place in 2005 (correct me
if I'm wrong) will help a great deal.  Reference to professionalism on the
histonet by Vinnie Della Speranza and many others really is central to the
future of our discipline.  I feel as though I may be preaching to the choir,
but as I tell the upper management people around here, for the last 10 years
we have really been "blowin' up"!  What I mean (as most of you know) is that
as a discipline we've expanded, diversified and had new demands placed on us
at a phenomenal rate.
Solving our problems will not be easy.  I believe it was not as hard in the
past because the pool of people "qualified" to do the work could in large
part be trained on the job.  Many dedicated and good people were brought
into the world of histology in such a way.  In the "good old days" it was
not deemed necessary to tell histotechs about the dangers (both chemical and
biological) that they were exposed to.  This often times went along with
being put in a corner or basement, you received your pittance and existed as
a cheap commodity.  If you didn't like it chances are someone else could be
found that would.  I certainly do not mean to offend any one who has been
trained in without a formal education, but education is the key.
I have seen both sides of the education issue too.  One side being a lab
with well trained, highly skilled "hands on techs" that have to put up with
some pompous "a**" with a degree who's all thumbs.  Then there's the other
side that suffers from a lack of professionalism ( i.e., poor communication
skills, lack of ...medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry
and biology) this hurts the image of histology professionals particularly
when dealing with doctors and other degreed laboratory professionals on a
daily basis.  As many things are in life the answers most likely come from a
middle ground.  Should people working in the world of histology be degreed?
Absolutely!  Can people do the work without it?  Sure if you mean embedding,
cutting and H+E staining, beyond that is probably asking too much.  And
anyone worth their salt that works beyond those basics today without the
formal education was probably self starting enough to work like hell to
learn in the lab.  This takes me to the manual part of our discipline.
Until someone comes up with a machine that can embed and cut (and I know
it's only a matter of time) I believe it is imperative that people receive
the hands on training that is so special to histology and truly makes us
unique in the field of laboratory science. 
One of the problems today is the speed at which students are expected to get
through clinical training.  It's ironic that 20 years ago the program I went
through (Wayne's World) required a 6 month internship.  Today with all we
have added the students we are fortunate enough to receive (thank you Bob
Brunner) have 12 weeks to get through and prepare for the registry...that's
a lot!  Another issue with the biology degreed individuals (for example) is
that they usually have not been trained specifically in histology,
particularly in the manual art of it.  My superiors view this as paying a
wage to someone for clinical training as they will not be productive or in a
sense really ready to be as opposed to someone from a histology program.
This may be one of the waves of the future.  Providing degreed people with
the practical training and hoping they will stick with histology. 
Just an aside to Glen Dawson if you are reading this, it is my understanding
that our beloved Eau Claire program shut down for a few reasons.  One was
tax dollars back into the school district.  As you well know the world needs
histotechs but you most likely have got to leave Eau Claire and as you go so
goes your financial impact on the community.  The other issue I believe had
to do with the Uniroyal plant shutting down.  A number of disaffected
workers were put into education programs and some poor choices were made for
histology which ultimately affected clinical sites and unfortunately
interest in the program.  Thanks to everyone for putting up with my ramble.

Thomas Jasper HT(ASCP)BAS
Anatomic Pathology Coordinator
SMDC Clinical Laboratory
Duluth, MN

<< Previous Message | Next Message >>