[Histonet] RE: Re: Changing dynamics in histotechnology

Morken, Timothy Timothy.Morken <@t> ucsfmedctr.org
Tue Sep 18 11:30:26 CDT 2012

Histology was taken out of the US med tech programs decades ago. At that time histo was all cutting, H&E and special stains. Since histotechs don't report out results they thought it was not really the same level as med techs so out it went. Most other countries have it as part of the med tech program and then the person specializes in their last year. That certainly makes for a more well-rounded tech. When I worked in Saudi the US techs were the least educated among all the techs from other countries working there. It was actually kind of embarrassing to see how far behind US techs were compared to their counterparts in other countries. Histotechnology is now pretty much similar to med tech in technological terms but we still don't report out anything. Of course, most of what med techs report out is just numbers from a machine. They are primarily responsible for ensuring the machine works correctly so are far more concerned about QC/QA and statistics. 

During lab week next year try getting a TV station into the lab for some shots. They always like tech stuff and just the mention of jobs may bring them in! (of course, the next question is, exactly how does a person get into histotechnology if there are no programs around?).

Tim Morken
Supervisor, Electron Microscopy/Neuromuscular Special Studies
Department of Pathology
UC San Francisco Medical Center
tim.morken <@t> ucsfmedctr.org

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Teri Johnson
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2012 5:07 PM
To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: [Histonet] Re: Changing dynamics in histotechnology

Ok, my workplace blocks Facebook, so here is the article for those of you who can't read it from the original link provided: http://www.clpmag.com/issues/articles/2012-09_04.asp

Many good points have already been raised and discussed and I will not rehash them here. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

- First - kudos for the NSH, state societies, committee members and histology professionals for working their butts off to provide us with information and training opportunities, and for promoting our profession. They are doing what they can to provide the water for us to drink. It is up to us to partake in it.

- Why are we keeping this information in laboratory-centric publications? How in the world are we ever going to get the word out about our shortages and challenges unless we move outside of our own little box? Advance, Laboratory Medicine, NSH, etc are only read by personnel currently involved in laboratory testing. Sorry but we've been talking about this for YEARS and almost always in Lab publications. Is anything happening? What about People Magazine, or USA Today, or Sunday Morning or Good Morning America?

- We have long fought to keep Med Techs from coming into the histology lab and taking over the higher complexity testing because they have a 4-year degree and most of us don't. To say that it is a mistake to bring them in because only histologists "fully understand the preparation process and its effects of the variation of results and can effectively work, partner with the pathologist to provide the information and testing results required to make personalized medicine a reality" is like trying to hide behind a shield made of aluminum foil. If we can learn it on the job (as most of us have), then so can they. Encroachment by MTs might be the single biggest factor in promoting education in our field.

- I'm wondering if anyone(in clinical laboratory education) has started thinking about putting a histology component into Med Tech training. I know their schools are in trouble as well, but maybe the answer isn't to stay separate but to consolidate? I know, some of you are howling right now because this is an emotional issue for us. But take a moment to consider that other countries require folks who do Histology to be biomedical scientists, proficient in many laboratory disciplines including Histology. If we cannot adapt and educate ourselves with or without the assistance of the NSH, local Histo groups, pathologist support or employer support then I consider this may be a potential answer to the staffing issues.

- Having said all this - I like being separate from Med Techs. I like what makes us different. We make a decent wage considering the current lack of formal education requirement. I'm often surprised our profession doesn't make the list of higher paying jobs without advanced degree requirement. I am thinking that it's probably a good thing it hasn't as it might inadvertently promote the status quo.

Teri Johnson HT(ASCP),QIHC

Disclaimer: The thoughts conveyed above are strictly my own and do not reflect in any way on my employer, co-workers, family members, deceased pets, and future ex-husbands.

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