[Histonet] RE: Interviewing Histotechs...

Mayer,Toysha N TNMayer <@t> mdanderson.org
Tue Jan 31 10:38:58 CST 2012

I agree with you somewhat.  I have met techs that misrepresented themselves and said that they could cut or embed, and knew how to operate the instruments, but could not produce quality work.  You are right when you said that it is different for clinical vs. research. I have almost always worked clinical, and noticed that when working with research techs, they had a difficult time adjusting to clinical with the time frames and quality. 
When training new hires, depending on the position I am hiring for, I expect to train in the new workflow that they have learned, the new instrument they use, not the basic skills.  I only expect to do that with a student. Fresh techs are expected to know how to get a section, not cut the plastic on the block, embed skin, and set up the h&e stainer.  I should only have to go over and orient them on "our procedure" not teach the skill.  
I have worked various part-time jobs over the years and the first thing I ask is 'how many microns do you cut at here'? While 3-4 is the standard, some labs want everything at 3, or some at 4.  I know how to cut, but like you it takes about 2 weeks to get used to the new instrument. That's fine, but I don't expect to have to teach the tech how to embed a skin or cut a kidney biopsy. Not for an experienced tech, unless they have never encountered it.  That has to be made known during the interview.
Yes, a cutting test is good, I have seen registered techs not make it past probation (90 days) because they could not cut. It would have saved the company time and MONEY if a test could have been given. Asking if they can cut a kidney biopsy, or embed a skin would be good as well. I can't go back and get more epithelia or ask for another pass through the kidney.

Toysha N. Mayer, MBA, HT (ASCP)
Instructor, Education Coordinator
Program in Histotechnology
School of Health Professions
MD Anderson Cancer Center
(713) 563-3481
tnmayer <@t> mdanderson.org

Message: 5
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:13:11 -0800
From: Jerry Ricks <rosenfeldtek <@t> hotmail.com>
Subject: [Histonet] Interviewing Histotechs...
To: <histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu>
Message-ID: <BAY161-W3593BCA5DAB2C7994A0D4CDB8D0 <@t> phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

I gather it is different in clinical labs than in research labs.  In clinical labs there is an emphasis on quantity and speed.  In research the emphasis is on doing good experiments.  Our "patients" are almost always deceased or shortly about to be so there is no urgency of diagnosis factor.  For us, "diagnosis" means making precise measurements else some scientists looking at an image and asking each other "what the?"

Anyway I always assume that the person I am hiring is incompetent at histology and that they will need to be personally trained by me.  Doesn't matter how much experience they have.  And over 23 years that has turned out to be true.  I've met exactly two people who didn't need much training.    One was a former senior clinical lab manager.  The other was a kid straight out of high school who happened to have a histology experience from high school and a decent histo portfolio.  Yes, Mercer Island High School had a Histology program.

No such thing as a tech who doesn't need to be trained and any tech trained by me will be up and running in a week or two.  Why bother making them cut or stain anything during a darn interview.  If they are smart and cooperative they will work out.

If I ever go to a new lab with a new microtome, new protocols, I am pretty sure that I will be sort of incompetent for a week or two as well.

Jerry Ricks
Research Scientist
University of Washington
Department of Pathology

 histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2012 13:12:09 -0500
> From: rsrichmond <@t> gmail.com
> To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> Subject: [Histonet] Re: interview....
> Ray Koelling asked me:
> >>If the Samurai Pathologist is out there reading still; any idea over your career, about how many glass slides have you viewed under a microscope since the first? Your replies are always top-notch, entertaining and informative. And hope with each new job you don't have to show someone you can pass a test of which slide shows normal liver and which slide shows cirrhotic liver in your interview.<<
> I really have no idea how many slides. In a normal year I sign out
> about 3,000 histology cases (remember I don't work full time)
> averaging maybe 3 slides per case.
> Generally I've gotten jobs, both private clients and agency clients,
> by recommendation. A number of years ago I was interviewed by a
> four-pathologist hospital group who handed me a tray of 20 slides with
> the necessary historical information, and was told that this was a set
> the group had collected, including very straightforward cases, cases
> with serious diagnostic pitfalls, and some cases they'd never been
> able to make a diagnosis on. They tried to make it a test of judgment
> rather than simple diagnostic skill. Told to take as much time as I
> needed. I guess I passed - by coincidence, the entire group chanced to
> break up very quickly, and an entirely different team took over.
> Bob Richmond
> Samurai Pathologist
> Knoxville TN

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