Strategies for Coping With the Shortage of Histotechs

By: Pam Barker, Relia Solutions

Has there ever been a time when there wasn’t a shortage of histotechs? It just seems to get more critical every year. I have to be honest I would LOVE to place techs with all of you but they aren’t always out there. I wanted to write this article to encourage you and give you strategies to cope with the shortage because I think we can all agree that this shortage is not going away.


A wise person once said…"A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush" Now is the time to take on the greatest and most rewarding challenge you can as manager. That is to work with what you have to develop the team you want.

Here are some suggestions:

Develop your employees: Sit down with them find out what makes them “tick”. Learn their strengths, weaknesses, goals and desires. Use that info to foster a team environment.

Cross train your employees: Teach everyone to do everything. Not only will they appreciate becoming well rounded histotechs, it will also take the strain off of you when you find yourself shorthanded because you can move people to wherever you need them whenever you need them.

Capitalize on Travel Techs: All it takes is a few more questions when you are considering a traveler to capitalize on “try before you buy”. Ask the travel tech and the travel company about temp to perm. As a matter of fact tell the travel company that you want a temp to perm for the position. If they can’t do it, call another travel company.

How about externship students? Take on students from histology schools for externship it's another way to "grow your own". If there isn’t a school in your local area – no worries there are several programs that are distance learning and those students need a place to do their externships as well. One example is the program at IUPUI. Contact the histology programs. You can find a list of them on the NSH website. Even if a student is not located in your area, many times there are students who would come to your area because they want to relocate there or have family or friends there. Most students would prefer that their first position be at the place they did their externship.

The not so perfect candidate: Ok, so maybe the histotech you just interviewed is not the perfect candidate. Ask yourself, can I develop them? Can we find a way to make them shine? Is it better to wait months for the perfect candidate that you might not ever find or could you hire a not quite perfect candidate and help them to become the employee you want?


Now is your time to shine! Nationwide the histology programs are turning out great entry level techs and most of them are being snapped up. Here's the thing the REAL shortage is experienced, certified histotechs. That's you!!!!

Ask for extra responsibility: Do you dream of being a lead tech or manager? Now is the time to talk to your manager about what you need to do to move up. Does your manager know about all of the things you can do? Tell them, show them. A good manager will appreciate the helping hand.

Cross train: Are you just working in one area of the histology lab? Ask to cross train and learn new things. It will enhance your experience and help your manager when they are short handed to have a tech that is flexible; a tech that wants to and can do multiple jobs.

Help a new tech out: Somebody new in your lab not quite fitting in or not quite “getting it”? Can you help them to be a productive member of your team? Your rewards are twofold – You get to impress your supervisor AND that tech might be the key to you getting the time off or schedule that you want.

Go for another certification: Now is the time – get that QIHC or HTL. You are positioning yourself for more senior opportunities and that is where the greatest shortage is.

Join the national or your state society: Get involved, take the webinars, go to meetings. You will learn and grow from the experience.

If you show your commitment, drive and passion for what you do this could be the pinnacle of opportunity for furthering your career! Click here to check out opportunities to develop your leadership skills.

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