Fixation on Histology

Creating Your Career Path

Lab SceneAs a former Program Director for a Histologic Science Program, I worked closely with students in the area of career advancement.  Many students remained content with the knowledge they gained and the hands on skillset they would have to perform laboratory work, while others saw the certified histotechnician, HT (ASCP) as a stepping-stone toward career advancement in allied health.  As I reflect upon my own career path, I am able to see just how critical the histotechnician foundational skillset was to my career advancement, and career success.  The foundational skills I received from my hospital based histotechnician program, provided me job security and opportunities for personal and professional growth.  Critical thinking, understanding, creating, and leading, were the skills I embraced and carried throughout my histology career, ultimately landing me in the field of education.

Supervising hospital histology labs for most of my laboratory career allowed me the opportunity to hone my technical and administrative skills.  Those foundational, technical skills for the histotechnician (fixation, processing, embedding, sectioning, staining) are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the patient specimen.  Let’s face it, with the looming crisis the field is facing around vacancies, the technically skilled histotechnician is in high demand.  I challenge future students of histology, however, to expand their thinking, to include the cognitive skills and those skills that are transferable to other positions and / or careers, in consideration of an ever changing workforce.  Skills such as public speaking and social media savvy can establish a tech in the lab as a leader on the patient care team, a critical role for the profession. New graduates and seasoned histotechnicians need evolving skills to remain competitive in this chosen career and for a  career beyond the bench.

Accreditation experience obtained through working in CAP accredited laboratories, proved critical to my transition to an academic role as Program Director for a NAACLS accredited histologic science program.  Preparing your laboratory or program for an inspection can seem a daunting experience, yet obtaining the skills necessary to do so can make that experience seamless.  For example, any inspection in the field of histology warrants an eye for detail, critical thinking and direct technical expertise; all foundational (and transferable) skills of the histotechnician.  As a Program Director, accreditation of the histology program involved maintaining accreditation standards through submission of annual reports, writing a self-study, and ensuring all documentation was in order.  My technical skillset and years of experience in the field of histology, allowed me to transition to an academic position.  My experience as an educator and program director allowed me to grow in leadership, and transition to my current position as an Assistant Dean for a School of Health; a clear demonstration of how an evolving skillset can create a career path.

It is important that histotechnicians planning their career path broaden their lens beyond the technical skillset.  Navigating a global pandemic taught us to think creatively, while encouraging many of us to reevaluate our careers.  With this in mind, the ability to demonstrate critical thinking, understanding the “whys” of the work we do, and leadership, prepares the histotechnician to move forward, while simultaneously allowing growth within a current position.  Regardless of where one’s career path takes them, the histotechnician with a strong technical foundation, and the ability to demonstrate competency in areas outside of that skillset, is the histotechnician of today.  Be that histotechnician.

Written by Kelli Goodkowsky, HT(ASCP), M.Ed.

1 comment



08-20-2022 09:36

Thank you Kelli Goodkowsky, HT (ASCP), M.Ed. for your valuable article to motivate Histology Laboratory Professionals to improve their career out of the box and involve in mentoring the young professionals and be a leader!!