[Histonet] 2 cents, 4cents, 10 cents, automated vs. manual...

Jasper, Thomas G. TJasper <@t> smdc.org
Wed Apr 6 17:30:39 CDT 2005

Basically have watched this thread evolve from ASCP power and policy (or
lack of) issues etc. to the staining stuff.  I've stayed out of the fray,
yet wanted to comment.  I may have forgotten a point or two along the way,
but hope to make an intelligent contribution nonetheless.
Thank you Peggy Wenk for directing folks to Marilyn Gamble and for the other
Joe Nocito, et al; registry renewal and certification expiration could well
be the product of a profit driven agenda.  I realize that costs rise as time
goes on.  One could argue this is the price of higher technical standards.
Maybe so, but it seems unnecessary to me.  I believe it is the
responsibility of the institution of employment to set standards for those
they employ.  Our staff techs have to be registry eligible (all are
certified but one, who is scheduled to take the exam) and obtain 10 CEUs per
year.  I believe if people are not keeping up on CE they are devaluing
themselves.  They will soon find themselves dead-ended in a job or less than
desirable for employment elsewhere.  This is an example of individuals
taking responsibility for themselves.  I do not like the forced regulation,
post-certification, as I believe this could be particularly detrimental to
those who specialize.
Charles Embrey, et al; thank you for the educational breakdown for
histotechs and PAs.  Charles, I am generally in agreement with you on most
of your posts and I will state now that I do advocate education.  
Ian Montgomery, et al; thank you for your comments.  I have met some very
kind and intelligent colleagues from the UK.  I have no doubt that there is
more of a premium placed on advanced formal education in the UK than there
is in the US.  The nature and evolution of histology have gotten us to this
point in which we are desperately trying to balance practical skill with
advanced education.  We are moving in the direction of education as what is
expected of histotechs today has greatly expanded and diversified.  This
list-server alone is proof of that.  We are becoming highly specialized and
no one can know how to do it all and do it well.
To my knowledge (US experience) historically, histology was initially
performed by physicians or people off the street.  This induced the
development of professional, qualified and well educated non-physicians to
handle the work.  Of all lab disciplines (in my opinion) histology requires
the greatest amount of eye-hand coordination and fine motor skill, along
with an artistic ability.  This is why there have been so many "good"
non-registered histotechs out there in the field.  A deft hand, some common
sense and a good work ethic basically filled the bill.  I have worked with
some exceptional OJT techs.  I have also worked with degreed people that
have questionable functionality, so it goes.  What it all boils down to is
this; people need to know more for the sake of patients and the sake of
themselves.  Education is the only way.
Candyce Fockler, et al; degrees are great, as I stated education is the key.
I still believe in a practical demonstration of lab skill as an indicator of
technician worth.  Demonstration of solid technical skill by registry
eligible individuals undoubtedly has merit.  Certification only serves to
validate that skill all the more.
Manual versus automated - Tim Morken, et al; great points, I can appreciate
the merits of manual staining (deeper understanding and all) hey, I'm an old
school guy.  But, automation is in the cards.  With shortages and all we
can't help it.  Also, patient slides are submitted (real work) after
automated staining for diagnosis.  Tim (I believe) made the point that
whether a stain is manual or automated it can still be goofed up.  It's
still up to the techs to know if it's right or not.  The case of the tech
and deparaffinizing slides is unbelievable.  To me that is a serious
educational gap that should not have been missed.
I would like to thank everyone who has commented on this thread as it has
evolved.  I believe these are important matters to discuss and I have
appreciated all viewpoints that have come out.  I apologize to those I did
not mention by name that made contributions, I thank you again as well.
I don't believe this is tied into the thread but I would like to mention it
now anyway.  I hope that Julia Dahl and Stephen Peters will continue to post
on this list server.  They along with the other MDs (you know who you are)
that monitor the Histonet are much needed to understand and further our
profession.  I sincerely appreciate the postings from these individuals.
Thomas Jasper HT(ASCP)BAS
Anatomic Pathology Coordinator
SMDC Clinical Laboratory
Duluth, MN
tjasper <@t> smdc.org

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