Re: Histotech Education

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From:Tim Morken <> (by way of histonet)
Date:Mon, 31 Jan 2000 22:47:12 -0500
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Barry Rittman wrote:

"My perception is that our major problems are really the lack of
standardized training, the increasing complexity of the field and the lack
of a broad view of the training necessary."

This is a result of the fact that the perception of histology by most Med
Tech training programs is still rooted in cutting sections and staining
H&E's. Most Med Techs are surprized when they find out what is going on in
the histology lab these days. They  have had no exposure to it in their
training and all they know about it in a hospital is that all those smelly
formalin container go to histology. All lab managers are med techs, so is it
surprising at all that Histology is still thought of as a backwater? That's
why I feel that histologists will either have to make a lot of noise to get
the recognition they deserve or surrender their samples to med techs,
especially the molecular biologly labs.

I feel that if Med Tech programs would re-institute histology in their
programs that the "histologist shortage" would disapper overnight. I have
talked to many Med Techs who are disappointed to find that all they do is
push buttons on machines all day.

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: Barry Rittman <>
To: histology <>
Subject: Re: Histotech Education
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 14:13:38 -0500

The discussions regarding histiotech training all revolve around adequate
training. While many laboratories provide excellent on the job training
may  do a mediocre to poor job.
I worked in a laboratory where on the on the job training was excellent
the chief technician was highly skilled and  cared deeply about his
(and we were not in a rush mos of the time). We had a half day of formal
training in the laboratory each week where we were trained in advanced
techniques. Additionally, we were required to attend classes outside of work
additional histootech training (and to maintain good grades). These outside
classes were valuable because they provided a different approach to the work
also allowed interaction with individuals from other laboratories. Not many
laboratories can  afford to have this luxury.
In the States we have the situation where for many laboratories there is
pressure for producing sections in as short a time as possible and often
or no time left for an individual to receive additional training. There are
avenues for training such as the courses mentioned earlier and also
workshops at
local, state and national meetings. Many of these are excellent and many
laboratories will pay for their histotechs to attend these courses and

My perception is that our major problems are really the lack of standardized
training, the increasing complexity of the field and the lack of a broad
view of
the training necessary. We now have specialists in histotechnology,
electron microscopy, immunochemistry and so on. While it is desirable to be
skilled as possible at the work on hand it is prudent to also have a good
concept of related fields. With a heavy work load however, the natural
is to concentrate narrowly on the actual procedures that need to be done.
may result in an individuals who are highly skilled in a specific area but
to struggle each time a new procedure arrives on the scene . It has also
resulted in a robotic approach for many procedures in  laboratories.  This
approach may  save time and sometimes expense but may add nothing to the
training of the histotech.
Another factor is the histotechs attitude. The individual must be willing to
avail themselves of any opportunities that the job may offer in the way of
additional training. Unfortunately not all histotechs are willing to do this
to spend some of their own time in learning new techniques. It is easy to
criticize this attitude but many individuals have come to realize that there
a life outside of work and especially with a familty and a double income
required, total dedication to work may be unrealistic.
I believe that salaries should and increase for histotechs. I believe that
only approach is the education of the customers (including the general
and the pathologists) of the advantages of a highly skilled technician who
produce a quality product. Currently, many do not realize that continual
training, a highly motivated and respected technician and a clear career
path is
just good business.
One final comment, look at the beauty of the sections that you are
The complexity of the tissues and the vibrant colors in many of the
is still a wonder to me.
This reminds me of when I was in Iowa. The state decided that because of the
large number of sunflowers growing wild, they would declare it a noxious
Unfortunately the sunflower is a state flower (think it is Missouri?). That
state then declared the eastern goldfinch (the state bird of Iowa) a noxious
Ignorance can be a killer.

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