[Histonet] RE: Interviewing Histotechs...

Rathborne, Toni trathborne <@t> somerset-healthcare.com
Tue Jan 31 13:46:39 CST 2012

I too have had experience in both clinical and research settings. I have also interviewed applicants from both areas as well. The point made about new grads of on-line programs is something that I am now becoming more familiar with. We have our first student now, and she is doing very well. Her program started the beginning of the month, and I have given her more blocks to embed and cut than required by the program. We did have one person interview who graduated from one of these programs and had taken his HT exam. Unfortunately, his embedding and microtomy skills were not as good as that of even our current student. 
It is up to those of us who are fortunate enough to have students at our facilities, to give them plenty of opportunity to succeed not just on their written exams, but with actual hands-on training. Not just enough to submit a few slides at the end of the program, but to be able to keep a respectable pace while performing a variety of tasks. The applicant that we had who went through a program, obviously did not have much opportunity to get any extra bench time in. He explained to us some of the other tasks that he performed during his training, which is fine, and should be required, but it also took time away from essential skills that he needed to improve on. 
We debated quite a bit about whether we should hire this applicant. He seemed to be a good fit with staff, and was very eager to learn. The up side to this is that we could have trained him ourselves. The down side, was that we would have to take away tech time to spend with him, and not have him handle patient specimens until he was determined to be competent. At the time, we had a lot of vacation scheduled, and hiring him would have been more of an inconvenience than working short.

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Marcum, Pamela A
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 2:06 PM
To: 'Jerry Ricks'; histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: RE: [Histonet] RE: Interviewing Histotechs...

I have done both clinical and research and that comment happens in both areas about teaching me how to do that kind of work from doctors.  Before you say monkeys maybe you should try it full time in clinical and find out what you are talking about.  After 47 years I am still learning both areas as nothing is static and egos will get you in trouble.  

Pam Marcum

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Jerry Ricks
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:14 PM
To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: RE: [Histonet] RE: Interviewing Histotechs...

Hi Toysha

I think I'm just coming at it from "research mode" not clinical.  Hands on Histotechnology is a core part of our work, but just part, and it is focused on animal models of cardiovascular disease.  Depending on whether the researcher is a postdoc or an undergrad they will have more or fewer general lab skills including histo skills.  I haven't met anyone yet who did not need some training for embedding of brachiocephalic arteries of mice.

I doubt I would do well in a clinical lab.  I've become accustomed to docs saying "wow that's beautiful can you teach me how to do that?"  I gather in the clinical field it's more like "a monkey can learn how to section."  Maybe a good monkey could but I doubt it could work up an IHC with a new antibody.


> From: TNMayer <@t> mdanderson.org
> To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 10:38:58 -0600
> Subject: [Histonet] RE: Interviewing Histotechs...
> Jerry,
> 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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