[Histonet] Training Med Techs - some candid comments

Charles.Embrey Charles.Embrey <@t> carle.com
Wed Mar 22 09:30:38 CST 2006

Wow Mike, I think you misunderstood Becky's comments.  I don't think she
ever meant that Histology was a career and Lab was a job.  She meant
that both are career choices not just jobs.  The big problem with e-mail
is that it is so limited in communicating precise thoughts that it is so
easy to misunderstand someone's meaning.  I guess that is why people
started using smileys or "emoticons" ;) .  

You are partially right when you say that histology can be a "dead-end"
job.  With registration requirements in the US having been lower for HT
vs. MT it was natural to assume that the better educated would make
better supervisors.  I have to agree that in a strict "paperwork only"
management environment this makes sense but most histology supervisors
need to be working, hands on people that can troubleshoot well.  The HTL
certification denotes the higher education and many of these individuals
are used in management positions but there are simply not enough to go
around.  The newest trend, that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread,
is the use of certified Pathologists' Assistants as managers.  These
individuals, by rule, possess at least a Bachelor's degree with the
majority possessing a Master's degree.  They normally do a pretty good
job supervising but most are not very good at troubleshooting unless
they had a prior job as an HT. Always remember that level of degree is
not always directly proportional to ability.  Some of the more
intelligent, wisest, people I know are high school diploma histotechs.  

I guess the bottom line is that virtually anyone can be trained to
adequately manage from the paperwork standpoint and prior knowledge of
the task makes one more effective as a "hands on" manager.  Managing
people and motivating them however, takes real skill and talent.  A
talented, well trained HT can make a wonderful manager.

Becky is simply experiencing the same shortage of histology personnel
the rest of the country is facing and asking a simple question to try
and decide what is best for her lab.  You bit her head off unnecessarily
and owe her an apology.  

Charles Embrey PA(ASCP), HT
Histology Manager
Urbana IL      

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Mike
Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 7:57 AM
To: Histonet (E-mail)
Subject: [Histonet] Training Med Techs - some candid comments

Dear Ms Orr.

You may not have wanted a fight on your hands but now you've got one! 

Climbs on soapbox and starts tirade!

Your comment " Training a MT to be a Histo Tech is like trying to train
a policeman to be a fireman" rather sticks in the craw, and I would like
to follow with a counter
comment, "Can a Histo Tech be trained to be a fireman?" as anyone can be
shown how to connect a hose to a hydrant and point it at the flames.

Granted, Histopatholgy is very much a "hands on" profession, requiring
fine manual dexterity and concentration, but it's no better than
operating a high output Biochemistry/ Haematology analyser or
cross-matching a pint of blood, where a wrong result can kill a patient.
Plus you operate under a fraction of the stress we are subjected to  -
try working for a full day, and then doing another 13 hours of call out
duty, and then you are expected to report for normal duty next day!

It's a gross insult to insinuate that ours is a "job" while yours is a

As students, we spent 5 - 6 months working in every division that was
available in the lab - Chempath, Haem, Parasitology, Micro, Cyto,
Immunology, Human genetics, blood transfusion, and yes, even Histopath.
When we passed our finals, we were allowed to choose which discipline we
wanted to further our careers, and each year, without fail, the majority
would choose anything but Histopath, as it was considered a boring
"dead end division" (Yes, pun intended).

As for management positions, if you can run a Chempath or Micro Dept,
then you can run a Histopath Dept, as the same managerial systems apply,
regardless of the discipline, it's just the practical applications of
the work in hand that differ. 

Histopathology is just one of the services in the medical world, you
don't walk on water, and neither do we. As far as I am concerned, once
trained as a general Med Tech, you can be trained in virtually any other
discipline, unless you are like "two left thumbs" me, who after 35 years
on the bench, still cannot cut a half decent section or make a passable
blood smear. (But I am good as a manager!)

End of tirade - climbs off soapbox, puts on helmet, and climbs into
bunker, to await the verbal barrage that's about to be

South Africa

-----Original Message-----
From: 	histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu]  On Behalf Of Orr,
Sent:	17 March 2006 17:04
To:	histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Cc:	Delk, Linda
Subject:	[Histonet] Training Med Techs

Hello everyone.
I would appreciate any feedback from those of you who may have had to
train MT's (ASCP) to work in Histology.
They would be trained as histo techs with the intent to promote them
into  Anatomic Pathology (Histology) management positions.
Candid comments welcome, especially from MT's who now work in histology!
To me it would be like trying to train a policeman to be a fireman, it's
a career, not a job, right?

We see a HT shortage in the Chicago area, but I am unsure how to address

Degreed individuals have proven critical thinking skills via a
traditional education pathway, so I see the advantages, but to ignore
very capable HT managers with proven management and organizational
skills via non traditional pathways  is becoming an issue with me.
I mean it's not like Non degreed HT's are stooopid or something.

Thank you

Becky Orr CLA,HT(ASCP)
IHC Lead 
Evanston Northwestern Healthcare


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