Fw: [Histonet] ASCP Exam Long opinion

Ian Montgomery ian.montgomery <@t> bio.gla.ac.uk
Thu Feb 1 11:51:39 CST 2007

        I'm with Barry on this, training and good training is essential. I
came through the UK university system and like Barry it was paid day-release
and evening classes spread over a number of years. Educationally my path was
clear, ONC, HNC, BSc and finally PhD, all paid for by my employer. This was
coupled with high quality on-job training in whatever discipline you had
chosen. Benefit for me, educated and highly trained. My employer, a hard
working and loyal employee of forty years.

Dr. Ian Montgomery,
IBLS Support Services,
Thomson Building,
University of Glasgow,
Extn: 8511.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rittman, Barry R" <Barry.R.Rittman <@t> uth.tmc.edu>
To: <Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu>
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 4:17 PM
Subject: [Histonet] ASCP Exam Long opinion

You owe me big on this as I'm sure that it will take the flaming away
from you.

My personal opinion is that what is needed for the entire system is a
good enema!

First I have a lot of sympathy and admiration for people who prepare and
mark examinations, after all I do this a lot and it is a thankless task.

However, the concept of having an examination without a practical
component to certify individuals as competent is one of the most stupid
things I have ever heard (bearing in mind that I am in my late 60s and
have worked in labs since 1957 that should give you some idea of how
stupid I feel this is.)
I also felt that being able to send microscope slides in for evaluation
and being able use automatic slide stainers for preparation of such
slides comes a close second.
>From many comments I am assuming that what is behind this entire
movement to dumb down the process is financial.
This is the same mentality that is used in education nowadays.
The question that is being asked seems to be what can we do with what we
have?  Put another way, how can we for example expand the work but use
the same number of people?
The question that should be asked is what resources do we need to get
the job done most efficiently?
I feel that most jobs can be most efficiently carried out with highly
trained and happy individuals. The careers and well being of individuals
involved in the process appears in may labs to not be a high priority.

I was trained in England and so I feel that I perhaps have a broader
view of the training that is carried out in the States and I have seen
two retrograde steps.
The first was to remove histology from the med lab tech curriculum. The
second was to have evaluation of histotechs under the jurisdiction of
I think that ASCP does a great job in many ways, however this is akin to
having the fox in charge of the henhouse.
In many ways I feel that this has directly or indirectly contributed to
the low salaries for many histotechs.
I feel that what is required is a training and an examination system
that is on a national level and that will maintain standards of
I am not certain of the same system I trained under in England is still
in operation but I felt that it was a system that benefited both
employees and employers.
If you were employed in any medically associated  laboratory it was
mandatory for you to have one day and 1 evening of your own time for
training at a nationally recognized facility.
The employer paid for your day off and the main requirement was that you
maintained good grades. This training covered several disciplines e.g.
histopathology, hematology and blood banking, histopathology,
bacteriology, clinical chemistry etc. Training took three years. At the
end of three years you took a written examination over all topics and if
you passed this a practical examination. The practical examinations were
at local centers. You were in a lab where you were presented with fresh
tissue, fluids, and supplies and a list of tasks to accomplish in a
morning. You multitasked - the order you carried out these tasks were
entirely up to you.
In the afternoon you had an oral examination from a panel of three

If you passed all parts you were recognized as a qualified Med Lab Tech.
You could go into any lab in the country and would be guaranteed a
salary range and more importantly the laboratory you went to would know
that, regardless of the lab you had worked in,  that you had a set of
uniform  skills in the entire area. Everyone benefited from this.
If you wished you could carry out advanced training in areas such as
histopathology, bacteriology etc. this required a further two years.
The net result of all this was that many labs has people at all levels
of training who acted as mentors. There were clear cut career paths.
I hope that the employers who survived a hear attack at the prospect of
implementing such a system see the underlying message.
First you need to train people and not just in a limited area.
Second that such training is often not available at the lab you are
working in and this requires a standardized training and evaluation
Lastly that a specific career path is established for employees from day
one with obligations form both the employer and the employee.
While the federal government would totally screw up such a system we do
have an NSH that could set standards and allow each state to enforce
such standards.
Thank y'all who have read these ramblings.
I promise you that I am not smoking anything.

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