Re: The future of Histotechs

From:"Ms. Evelyn Kaplan"

Good morning all,

I have been following this thread with interest as it is something which
raises several issues. I worked for 26 years in the UK for the NHS and am
now seeing a national shortage of biomedical scientists, particularly in
histopathology. The history of this was mainly due to the extra 'on-call'
payments which could be made in the other disciplines and therefore made
Cellular Pathology less financially attractive. Now most laboratories have
extended working hours with shift systems and therefore less need of an
extensive 'on-call' system and everyone gets a bite of the apple with
enhanced shift payments. But still there is a shortage of histopathology
The recruitment and retention of laboratory staff has been an issue for a
long time and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences has been striving to make
pay awards comparable across the health professional board in order to
attract young graduates to the profession. Recruitment is graduate entry
only and training is addressed by secondment to a hospital laboratory for
the third year in a four year honours degree plan. There are many
universities in the UK running programmes specifically for the
education/training of biomedical scientists (Histotechs) up to master's
levels. Listening to training problems and lack of training schools in other
countries you would think then that the UK would have cracked it? No, indeed
it has not. There are places which have serious staffing problems. The
bottom line is money. In the UK these days most new graduates have to start
paying back student loans, and therefore the pay packet is what they will
look at.  Large drug companies (and similar establishments) will win
everytime with their packages, and so on.
I now teach in the university in Muscat, Oman and like Greece, we have
graduates with no job prospects because Oman is not an industrialised
country and a limited number of hospitals. Added to this, only a handful
have cellular pathology laboratories. Consequently, I have students choosing
other disciplines simply on their job prospects.  Oman has a population of
2.5 million and 0.5 million are expatriates. Of the 2 million Omanis, 76%
are under the age of 30!!!! Somewhere in the near future there is going to
be serious problems for the new graduates. Currently, our students spend 5
semesters in the College of Science doing intensive English and basic
sciences and then they move to the College of Medicine for 5 semesters of
Biomedical Sciences. Their instruction is in the classroom as well as the
hospital laboratories. Only in their last semester do they choose their
Just a few thoughts; not sure what the answers are but I wouldn't trade one
minute of my professional life and am glad I choose Cellular Pathology.
Can't buy that with money!

Evelyn Kaplan
Dept of Pathology,
Sultan Qaboos University,
Muscat, Oman

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