RE: under appreciated histotechs

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From:Tim Morken <> (by way of histonet)
Date:Mon, 31 Jan 2000 22:47:30 -0500
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Your concerns are real but your take on things is wrong. There is no
requirement that anyone be certified or even educated to work in a histolab.
Any ol' person off the street will do. It is totally the responsibility of
the pathologist in charge to take responsibility for the work being done.
Any requirements are set only by a given hosptial. State that require
licensing have different requirements.

The ASCP has certain requirements for certification and until 2005 any high
school grad can qualify for the HT test with only some experience on the

So, right now the only thing holding things up is training someone to do the
practical parts of the job. On-the-job training can be good. Practical
things are easy to learn. It's the theoretical parts that are hard. Your OJT
person may do great in general lab work. When it comes to understanding more
complex subjects they will most likely struggle with it.

Anyone who thinks that no science training whatsoever is needed in histology
is sadly mistaken. The next ten years will have dramatic changes for
histology. Those who fail to train are just going to be cutting sections for
the rest of their careers.

Personally, I think it unfair to a person to insinuate that OJT is all they
need for histology work. They will eventually come to realise that they have
lost out on a lot of training that they need to advance in a field that has
no limit to it's possibilities.

Tim Morken, B.A., EMT(MSA), HTL(ASCP)
Infectious Disease Pathology
Centers for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333


Phone: (404) 639-3964
FAX:  (404)639-3043

----Original Message Follows----
From: Doug Showers <>
Subject: RE: under appreciated histotechs
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 14:21:08 -0400

Many days go by where I feel unappreciated but I don't think certification
or lack of a degree has much to do with it. No matter what certification or
degree anyone holds in healthcare, I feel the majority of the money will
always be made by those who hold the MBAs, JDs, and MDs. (Anyone know many
well appreciated or well compensated PHDs?)  In some ways I think doing away
with the "hs route" or the ability for individuals to OJT their way to an HT
is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.  I do not want the government or
any regulatory body to tell me who I can and cannot hire.  It falls on each
of us as supervisors or managers to hire the most qualified personnel to fit
our demands for high quality work.  If the best person for the job is
unregistered, make it a stipulation that they work towards registry within
two years (and fully support their efforts to get registered); make sure
your registered techs are better paid; cull the ones who are not
contributing to the work.
	At a time when there is a severe shortage of registered technicians
available for hire and when training programs are very hard to find, we
should not be making it harder for people to enter the field.  Instead we
should be finding ways to "grow" our own technicians.
	What has worked for me several times is to hire a sharp,
intelligent, hard
working individual as a lab aide to help sort, label, and distribute slides;
when they have learned our system then we teach them how to coverslip,
maintain the slide stainers and then the processors.  Teach them to handle
basic phone requests to track down work.  If they last that long, then we
bring them in on an off day (Saturday) and teach them embedding.  The next
step would be letting them practice cutting on extra tissue blocks the gross
room prepares for us.  By the time they get to the embedding step, we know
if we want to take them further and they know if they want to go on. We
furnish them with Frieda Carson's book and make available any other
educational materials they need.  Next we let them work in the special stain
room with an HT during the slow part of the day to teach them how to do
special stains, starting with the simplest.  If they take to that, we
progress them to the complex and then assign them their own cutting station,
certify their work, encourage them to seek their HT, and look for another
lab aide.
	I am truly afraid that by requiring degrees and certification prior to
hiring we would be cutting ourselves off from intelligent, ambitious
individuals who might come to love our craft as well as we do.
	I'm sorry; I didn't mean to turn this into a thesis, but I'm very
passionate about my art and don't want anyone to take us down a road it
would be very hard to return from.  Let's here about state licensure from
our friends in Florida.

Douglas Showers, MS, HT (ASCP)

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 1:43 PM
Subject: under appreciated histotechs

some more thoughts...

we are under appreciated, but it is very difficult to lobby for a group with
so many without certification and so many without higher education

it is also difficult to lobby for required certification when we don't have
the bodies to meet the demand

the lack of certified techs forces employers to take what they can get
(OJT), and it also makes the employers have a negative atitude towards
required certification as they are afraid they will not be able to find
anyone to do the work

i know it is slow, but the best we can do, is what we have done by asking
ascp to change the requirments for certification, illiminating the hs route

i was very encouraged at the first timers breakfast in providence when i
found that all the young people at my table starting their ht careers had
degrees, now i just hope we can keep them in this profession and not lose
them to more desirable areas

patsy ruegg

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