[Histonet] uncertified techs in Histology

Pamela Marcum pmarcum <@t> vet.upenn.edu
Fri Feb 13 08:31:58 CST 2009

Joe is making good points here and I think it is something to think about
for all of us.  I know the Histology school at Pima Community College may be
closing in Tucson AZ too.  We keep trying for more schools and better book
training as well as mixing in actual laboratory experience in histology in
many areas of the country.  It is not filling these positions and while I
would like to see everyone certified and trained in a school it is not

I will be honest as some one trained as an OJT in the 60's I would not have
gone on with this field had I not had great mentors.  I could not thank Dr
George Gantner enough for starting me off not Dorothy Nagy enough for my
early training when we only had a few schools nationally and none close by.
I got my HT later so I would always have it.  My other education is really
secondary to histology which I consider a great profession whether in
clinical or research.  

It is also a point that very (and I mean very) few people even know what
Histology is or how important it is to getting a correct surgical diagnosis.
While we are talking about the shortage and where to get people we should be
thinking of ways to market who we are and what we do so people want to
become histologists.  It is not happening and never will with ASCP nor is
much going on with NSH as far as I can see.  I attend and speak at state
meetings and region meetings all over the country and we are all seeing the
same thing and getting no help or feedback.  AS a volunteer organization we
can effect the areas we live in however, we need help to do it.  

We have a school here in my area at Delaware Technical Community College and
it rotates people through various labs in the area.  This is a bone lab and
we show them plastics and other procedures we do that they may never see any
place else.  The University is nice enough to allow this so we have about
two hours with them one on one for show and tell.  I know for what we do it
is a good chance to see a bone research lab for large animal study as
opposed to rodent studies they will see in some areas.  

Pamela A Marcum
University of Pennsylvania 
School of Veterinary Medicine
Comparative Orthopedic Laboratory (CORL)
382 W Street Rd
Kennett Square PA 19438

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of JoeNocito
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 6:27 PM
To: 'Morken, Tim'; Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: RE: [Histonet] uncertified techs in Histology

	FUEL to the FIRE (come on, it's me. Did you expect anything less?)
I was told today that the Histology program at the local CC is in jeopardy
of closing because the director (who is a MT) isn't supporting the program.
The program director has talked to the Dean and a meeting is to take place
next month: hopefully with local employers attending to state the point that
this program is needed.. San Antonio is in dire need of techs such that,
some techs are jumping from job to job for the most money. In my last place
of employment, I hired HTs at first, then ran out of techs. Then I hired
recent grads with the understanding that they would take the HT. My last
hire at the last place was a lab aide, who files slides, coverslipped, etc.
Before I left, we had him running special stains, embedding and cutting. We
sat with him at the microscope to go over the special stains reactions, the
chemicals and dyes that made the "colors". He was surpassing some of the
more experienced techs that have been working there for a longer period of
	My point is, registered or not, the fact is techs are in short
supply, with good techs even fewer. I've seen some registered techs that I
won't let touch a pimple on my left buttock, but this guy I was teaching
could cut my prostate bxs, that's is how much faith I had in him.
	There is a wide rip in the PA world between "programmed trained" and
"OJT trained" such that a member wrote a letter to the newsletter and said
he was withdrawing his membership because he felt that since the ASCP took
over the PA exam, there are less qualified PAs now because the ASCP made the
exam too easy.
	This question has gone on for years. I went for my certifications
because an old supervisor gave me the challenge that I wouldn't pass it,
funny, that's what some people said about me when I took my PA exam too. The
truth is, most of us are reaching the age where we need good histology.
Although I would like it if everyone was certified, but the fact is as long
as pathologists are willing to hire unregistered techs, this is a battle
that goes on. 
	Oh, by the way, I was discussing this same thing at a lecture one
time. In the audience was a histology program director, who at break, went
up to the other guy I was lecturing with, that she didn't agree with what I
was saying. He told her that what I was saying was the truth( that there are
many techs and PAs working who are not certified). She decided to pull
herself and her students out of my class. Now, I was not advocating that
people not get certified, I was saying that there are many out there who are
not. She even went to complain the president, vice-president and the program
coordinator about my lecture. My best buddy, Hector, was also there. After
she left, the president told Hector to tell me to tone it down some. Hector
said, "he won't listen to me". The president responded," why not? You're his
best friend". Hector replied," because it's Joe".
	I'm going out for a run now.

Joe Nocito, BS, PA, HT (ASCP) QIHC
San Antonio, TX


-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Morken, Tim
Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 10:57 AM
To: Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: RE: [Histonet] uncertified techs in Histology

Uh oh, here we go....again!

It's just demand and economics in most areas. In the San Francisco area good
luck finding a certified tech. They can command 70K with minimal experience,
which is what Kaiser and the UC medical center are paying. I know one woman
who was working for a service lab in the area who wanted to work on her
certification but her pathologist refused to sponsor her because he figured
if she got it she would leave for a place that would pay her higher salary
(seems like that ought to cause to lose a medical license!). Bad move: he
lost her anyway.

We have found that recent college grads are fully capable of the work (at
least in our area, which demands a lot of indepent work and thinking). What
is missing with most OJT is the breadth of education you get when you study
for the certification. I know plenty of people who cut well, do stains well
etc, but are lost outside the specialties of their particular laboratory,
and even outside their own little area of their own lab! But, we could also
discuss the breadth of knowledge of those lucky enough to be educated in a
formal school setting vs OJT and then certified. It goes on and on....

Tim Morken

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Steven
Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 6:56 AM
To: Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: [Histonet] uncertified techs in Histology

Any thoughts or experiences with my fellow HT/HTL's(ASCP).  What the big
advantage do all these facilities think there gaining by going with
unregistered techs, especially when theres always ongoing quality issues
when theres so many trained certified HT looking for work?  In my area of
the country I can't believe how many Hospitals go this way.

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