Re: Board of registry-Associate degree requirement

From:Sharon M Tipton <> (by way of histonet)

Hey, Shirley - I understand where you're coming from. I am a fairly new HT
(5 years/4 years certified) and I, too, had to self-educate, along with OJT.
It was a hard road to travel - and still is. I too have a "piecemeal"
college education, with an AS and an AA under my belt, plus many additional
courses. Someday I hope to finish the whole package with a BS. That feeling
of inadequacy is nagging me too - I always feel that there is so much more
that I need to know. Getting back into college classes is not easy when you
work full-time (not to mention family, community, etc. obligations), so that
leaves me always trying to 'catch-up' on learning.

So here we are 'beating ourselves up' over not having enough education for
this field, and yet there are those who would like to see less. I just can't
imagine not having some background in chemistry, math and writing. How much
more difficult it would be to not even be familiar with anatomy and medical
terminology. If nothing else, at the Associate degree level, you learn how
to LEARN. So even if you have to do it on your own, you  already have the
ability to study and learn. I know techs who are good at what they do, but
don't know how to actually learn and apply  new knowledge gained from
workshops, books or networking. And, unfortunately, there are also some
techs who only know how to "do", but don't really know "why". That brings in
the area of troubleshooting - you need to understand the foundations of all
these procedures and processes to be able to figure out what went wrong ( or
even right!). Heck, you need to have a clue just to ask the questions!
That's where continuing education keeps us learning and advancing in our
techniques and knowledge. Yes, money is a problem - we don't have it, our
institutions won't offer it - but we have to keep pushing for the chance to
get this education/training.

Which brings me to my question : Why doesn't the ASCP require continuing
education for HT/HTL? Look at all the professions who require so many hours
per year or two. My husband is an electrician - he has to update his
training with so many educational hours every two years. We certainly have a
lot of information to keep abreast of. Wouldn't this also encourage more
respect and better salaries for our profession?

Prospective histotechs - get your education first - it will help you more in
your future career than you can ever realize right now. The field will keep
changing, but you will be able to change with it, instead of always trying
to catch-up to it.

For the rest of us, who are in the field, but need to learn more - support
continuing education with workshops, teleconferences, books, journals, Tech
Sample, and hopefully, someday, readily accessible online education.( It's
on it's way!) And, of course, there is our Histonet - where else can you
ask, teach, vent and laugh ( all in a day's-worth of Histonet ) with fellow
'Nuff said!  Back to the books - Shar

Sharon M. Tipton, AA,AS, HT (ASCP)
Holy Rosary Medical Center
Ontario, Oregon

----- Original Message -----
From: Shirley Powell <powell_sa@Mercer.EDU>
To: Morken Tim <>
Cc: 'Mary Bryhan' <>; Histonet
<>; <>
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2000 1:23 PM
Subject: Re: Board of registry

> Well put Tim.  From a personal point of view, I am an OJT trained/self
> histotechnologist.  I began before most on the netters were born, took the
> and then HTL when first offered, then went on to take the QIHC.  We will
> discuss the salaries, the best description of them is pitiful.  Although I
> almost completed 4 years of college, most of it has been piecemeal, over
> years.  I feel very fortunate to have been able to keep up with the
> certifications to date.  But the education needed to pass these exams was
> extracted.  I wish daily that I had finished college before getting into
> histology.  Because of the new sophisticated technologies coming forth, I
> terribly inadequate.  I panic when to think of what I should already know
> opposed to what I actually have retained.  Paranoia is my strongest suit
> best.
> In the early years helping with founding the state societies and fighting
> state licensure for the profession of  histotechnology, it felt like we
> (histologists) were the red headed stepchildren (if this offends please
> me, it is only to relate the helplessness of the situation) being
> against because of our lack of formal education.  It took us a long time
to gain
> recognition and now that we have made progress, it is not the time to turn
> around and go back to the basement.  A college education is more readily
> accessible and affordable today with all the grants/financial aide, than
when I
> started histology.  Anyone can go to college with little or no financial
> resources, if they want to.
> Professionalism is the key attitude for success.  I agree with Tim,
> can only help, not hurt.  I applaud the NSH for being instrumental in
> our professional standards, but we still have room for improvements.  To
> appreciate what you have now, look into the past, learn from it, and work
for a
> better future.  Do not move backwards.
> Shirley Powell
> > Tim wrote:
> > This has come up several times before but I, for one, don't mind
> > it again because there is so much misunderstanding about the real
> >
> > In the US it is most common for histotechs to be on-the-job trained. You
> > one of the lucky ones who had formal training. I had formal training in
> > electron microscopy, and got an associates degree in that field, but I
> > learned histotechnology on the job, as did all the people I originally
> > worked with and learned from, and most of the people I have ever worked
> > with, so I know all about that.
> >
> > The field of histotechnology has grown tremendously just since I started
> > 1982. That was just as immunos were entering the hospital labs. Before
> > the most that was ever done was special stains, and most of those had
> > in use, almost unchanged, for many, many decades. A high school
graduate, or
> > even someone off the street (as was one fellow in our hospital lab)
> > learn the basics in a few years and work for decades with virtually no
> > changes in their technique, or even learning anything new!
> >
> > These days a high school grad may still learn to section and do
> > and even do the motions of immunos and ISH, but they will have a very
> > time understanding what they are doing, and their advancement potential
> > be non-existant (usnless they go back to school).
> >
> > A large problem with on-the-job training is that you only learn what is
> > available at that job, and then only what is absolutely necessary to get
> > work done. It is the rare employee that will go out of their way to
> > things that are "outside the box" , to use current lingo, and so set
> > themselves up for the future. Formal education is much broader in scope
> > prepares you for many eventualities.
> >
> > I believe an associates degree is the MINUMUM that is necessary to do a
> > decent job in the histo lab these days. A bachelors is preferable due to
> > greater depth of theory you will be exposed to. I agree that almost
> > can do the motions of the work we do, and much of the sectioning work is
> > truely a craft, but hands-on job experience only goes so far in
> > you to deal with the plethora of new technologies and methodologies
> > down the pipe. If anyone thought immunos were a tough thing to
> > and figure out you ain't seen nothing yet! A high-school education will
> > woefully inadequate for the future!
> >
> > As to the shortage of histotechs, I believe that taking the profession
to a
> > higher level will actually attract more people. How many college grads
> > enter a field that does not require any college at all? It is a waste of
> > effort for them because they will not be paid college-level wages, but
> > rather will be offered high-school level wages. Requiring college level
> > education will advance wages and attract more people.
> >
> > I think that putting the histotech courses into medical technology
> > as is done in other countries, would cause some med tech graduates to
> > histotechnology. I base this on my experience as a med tech instructor
> > Saudi Arabia where histotechnology is part of the med tech curriculum
> > all med techs do a rotation in all lab departments before choosing a
> > "specialization." There, some med tech chose histotechnology because
> > were put off by running all the automation in the clinical labs (where
> > were just feeding tubes to machine all day) and enjoyed the hands-on
> > and variety of the anatomic pathology lab.
> >
> > While in Saudi Arabia I also worked with many histotechs from many other
> > countries, all of which were med techs with a histotechnology
> > specialization. To a person they were much more knowledgeable than any
> > the US techs I hired (and that includes me!). They did not try to avoid
> > routine aspects of the job, as is often cited as a reason not to require
> > degrees, and were able to adapt to all new technologies very quickly.
> >
> > As to increased costs, I believe that education and training pays for
> > in added effectiveness, efficiency and potential.
> >
> > In summary, requirements for more education can only help and will never
> > hinder our profession.
> >
> > Tim Morken, BA, EMT(MSA), HTL(ASCP)
> > Infectious Disease Pathology Activity
> > Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
> > Ms-G32
> > 1600 Clifton Road
> > Atlanta, GA 30333
> > USA
> >
> > PH: 404-639-3964
> > FAX: 404-639-3043
> >
> > email:
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Mary Bryhan []
> > Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2000 8:52 PM
> > To: Histonet;
> > Subject: Board of registry
> >
> > Today our lab operations manager showed me a page that had been printed
> > the NSH website.  This page reported that beginning in 2004, the BOR
> > not permit applicants with only a High School diploma to take the HT
> > There will be requirements similar to those currently required for the
> > exam.
> >
> > At the age of 14 I took a 3 week summer class for fun, which previewed
> > health careers, one each week.  As you can guess, I became interested in
> > histology.  Two years later when I was 16, I began my 2 year ASCP
> > HT training program.  Because of staffing shortages, I received my
> > my 1st job offer in histology before I even graduated.  I took my boards
> > soon as I was eligible, back when the board only offered the exam twice
> > year.  I passed on the first try and got a pay increase of a quarter,
> > put my wage at $4.25 / hour.
> >
> > During the last 21 years I have worked with a wide variety of people who
> > call themselves  histo techs.  I must say that the majority of techs I
> > worked with that were good at the meat and potatoes of regular histology
> > techniques were high school graduates.
> >
> > There is a current staffing shortage in histology; does it make sense to
> > further it by adding these restrictions?  Also, what will the added
costs be
> > to an already over burdened medical system as we have in the US?
> >
> > Mary Bryhan
> > Petoskey,  Michigan

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