Re: Histotech Education

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From:Barry Rittman <> (by way of histonet)
Date:Mon, 31 Jan 2000 22:47:16 -0500
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The discussions regarding histiotech training all revolve around adequate
training. While many laboratories provide excellent on the job training  others
may  do a mediocre to poor job.
I worked in a laboratory where on the on the job training was excellent because
the chief technician was highly skilled and  cared deeply about his employees
(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 for
additional histootech training (and to maintain good grades). These outside
classes were valuable because they provided a different approach to the
work and
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 always
pressure for producing sections in as short a time as possible and often little
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, cytology,
electron microscopy, immunochemistry and so on. While it is desirable to be as
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 tendency
is to concentrate narrowly on the actual procedures that need to be done. This
may result in an individuals who are highly skilled in a specific area but have
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 or
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 is
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 the
only approach is the education of the customers (including the general public
and the pathologists) of the advantages of a highly skilled technician who can
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 producing.
The complexity of the tissues and the vibrant colors in many of the procedures
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 weed.
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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