Originally, I intended to focus on specific lessons I have used in the classroom. However, more recently I have noticed a need to change my approach. This is because my department has been receiving more requests from labs across the state desperately looking for qualified techs. It seems we can’t graduate students fast enough to fill the open positions. So now my quest is to translate my lessons to public consumption and to entice those that don’t know histology to want to enter the profession. I believe this is a key part to how we will fill the growing number of empty benches.
I currently do outreach at local high schools and other public forums, demonstrating the real lab work that we do – after all it is the hands-on fun that grabs them. But the hands-on demonstrations are constrained by the weight and size of the instruments we use, so I have found that staining is one of the best options. At our last outreach we did a quick polychrome stain looking at the squamous cells of the cheek under the microscope. Not quite as fun as embedding or cutting, but functional and gets the point across. I love seeing young students finally getting the microscope focused and seeing the microscopic world come to life.
For histotechnology to move forward into the future, we must reach out to our younger generation and others wanting to know the importance of what we do. My charge to you is to let everyone you meet know about histotechnology so that we fill our histology schools with future histotechnicians and histotechnologists. In turn, they will backfill our current vacancies and help our already over-worked colleagues. The future are the students entering our histology schools and eventually, they will be the ones to carry the torch when we leave.
Written by Amber Kumpfmiller, HT(ASCP)