Histotech Workforce Shortages

Histology Workforce Shortages

Workforce Shortages

A workforce shortage refers to a lack of qualified individuals to fill an excess of open positions in a specific career field. According to the 2018 ASCP Vacancy Survey, the total vacancy rate for histology is 8.37%. The rate is up from the 2016-2017 Vacancy survey, which reported a 5.6% vacancy rate. Supervisor vacancy rates are lower, at 3.82% than staff (8.95%). Supervisors reported a higher retirement rate than staff, however, at 18.24% compared to staff (11.06%). For the laboratory workforce, vacancy levels have increased for all departments surveyed.

Macro Trends Impacting the Workforce

The ASAE Research Foundation’s ForesightWorks conducts continuous scanning to identify and document external drivers of change and trends that impact organizations, businesses, and health care. It also offers steps associations can take to respond to the trend to help the communities and professions they serve. In 2018 the NSH Board of Directors and other volunteer leaders identified five key drivers that would significantly impact histotechnology to test our 2013 strategic plan and inform our future work. Our focus was and is histotechnology workforce development. Listen to this macro trends clip from NSH Executive Director Sharon Kneebone’s January 2022 presentation on Histotech Shortages.

Histotechnology Retirement & Vacancy Rates

It is difficult to estimate the total number of histotechnologists working in the United States without licensure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics combines all medical laboratory scientists in its data, making it impossible to segregate the numbers by discipline. According to the ASCP 2018 Vacancy Survey of Medical Laboratories in the United States, 27.13% of anatomic pathology laboratory supervisors expect to retire within three to five years, and 18.24% of histology laboratory supervisors were expected to retire within the next three to five years. Additionally, wages have barely kept up with inflation. Listen to this retirement and vacancy clip from former NSH Executive Director Sharon Kneebone’s January 2022 presentation on Histotech Shortages.

Educating Our Future Histotechnology Workforce

In this final excerpt from our January 2022 Histotech Shortages Webinar, Sharon Kneebone reviews the NAACLS HT and HTL program and graduate data. In short, we are not educating enough histotechnicians and histotechnologists to fill the current shortages due to increased retirements and histology professionals exiting the field throughout the COVID-19 pandemic