[Histonet] Practical Exam

Houston, Ronald Ronald.Houston <@t> nationwidechildrens.org
Fri Feb 20 10:25:48 CST 2009

In the UK, histotechs and med techs are considered equal and as Biomedical Scientists, which is what the profession in the US should be aiming for. 

This was accomplished by the governing body, the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, and the Unions coming together. 


Was it pretty? Absolutely not, and there was a lot of ill-feeling and distrust for a while - but it was accomplished and salaries and government, and indeed public recognition increased.


IBMS administers the examination, incredibly strict and extensive, and licences are administered by the Department of Health (if my memory serves me correctly). No licence - no work!


Practical examinations are (were, I've been away for 20+ years)) held regionally at large teaching hospitals, and were also strictly administered - that way there was no possible way of someone doing the work for a student.


The written examination for fellowship, also held regionally, comprises three parts; a two hour essay (from 4 topics), five short essays (~30 minutes each) and then a 3 hour multiple choice examination.


Barry may also remember prior to this, the specialist exam also included an oral examination as well as written and practical - that was really testing your knowledge


As I say, things may have changed recently, but laboratory staff in hospitals are still biomedical scientists, and much more highly respected than HTs over here. 


Far different from the US, but we need to get real and decide what the profession, not the ASCP, really wants. That can only come through the membership and the NSH



Anatomic Pathology Manager

Nationwide Children's Hospital

700 Children's Drive

Columbus, OH 43205

(614) 722 5450

ronald.houston <@t> nationwidechildrens.org

www.NationwideChildrens.org <http://www.NationwideChildrens.org> 



-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Rittman, Barry R
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 10:37 AM
To: Histonet
Subject: RE: [Histonet] Practical Exam



I have always regarded the mechanism of sending slides in to be a big flaw in the practical, it it did offer some standardization. cannot accept the cost logic.

The real question here is why is the ASCP running this exam at all?

I have great respect for the ASCP but is this organizations main goal to represent histotechs? The ASCP was not originally organized to look after our interests. I thought that the NSH and the individual state societies were instituted to do just that. In which case why is there not a standardized test that is administered by the NSH?

This can be done on a state level with individuals who are nationally certified .

Will this be more costly that the current system. Of course - but if histotechs wish for better recognition and pay I believe that this is the only path.

An alternate for appropriate salary and better conditions is unionizing. I know this has some disadvantages but lets face it with the national shortage of histotechs why haven't slaries and conditons improved dramatically, why are untrained people in some cases allowed to work in some positions?

I know that many who are .....of by this continuing saga but I can only apologize because I feel strongly about this (and because I have more time following my semi retirement!!).





From: Rene J Buesa [rjbuesa <@t> yahoo.com]

Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 8:01 AM

To: Victor Tobias; Histonet; Rittman, Barry R

Subject: RE: [Histonet] Practical Exam


There were 2 fundamental reasons why ASCP eliminated the practical part of the examination:

1- they got to the conclusion that there was no way to determine if the person sending the slides was the one who really made them, and

2- it was getting too costly to send the slides to review or to gather the reviewers to qualify the sections, so they decided to eliminate the practical and made the changes we have now (renewal and CEU).

René J.


--- On Thu, 2/19/09, Rittman, Barry R <Barry.R.Rittman <@t> uth.tmc.edu> wrote:

From: Rittman, Barry R <Barry.R.Rittman <@t> uth.tmc.edu>

Subject: RE: [Histonet] Practical Exam

To: "Victor Tobias" <victor <@t> pathology.washington.edu>, "Histonet" <Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu>

Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009, 6:30 PM




I cannot believe that you have said this.

Although I did not think that the practical examination was the ultimate test

of skill ,  it did at least provide some uniformity.

With an extension of the logic that you use it is just as easy to allow the

pathologist to certify that the technician is qualified even without a written


Without a somewhat standardized practical there is no guarantee that the

technician will have any practical knowledge outside their individual


Didactic without adequate practical knowledge is, as far as I am concerned,


What is really needed is a national standardized written and practical test

that is administered by NSH.

I am not holding my breath that this will happen.




From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu

[histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Victor Tobias

[victor <@t> pathology.washington.edu]

Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2009 5:03 PM

To: Histonet

Subject: [Histonet] Practical Exam


There has been discussion regarding the removal of the practical exam.

To me it has not been removed, but the responsibility has shifted to

whomever signs off on the student. In the case of OJT, the pathologist

has verified that this student can cut and stain. Of course what is

acceptable to one pathologist may not be to another. Do they get tested

in the art of troubleshooting...... As far as the schools go, they

shouldn't be graduating anyone that can't cut, stain and troubleshoot.

So I don't really see a problem with the absence of the practical. It is

Friday somewhere.





Victor Tobias

Clinical Applications Analyst

University of Washington Medical Center

Dept of Pathology Room BB220

1959 NE Pacific

Seattle, WA 98195

victor <@t> pathology.washington.edu


206-598-7659 Fax


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