What do you know about the cytotechnologist job description? Cytotechnologists work in laboratories and study cells and cellular anomalies.
They use a microscope to examine slides of human cells for signs that a cell is abnormal or diseased (i.e., cancerous or precancerous lesions, infectious agents, or inflammatory processes). Cytotechnologists frequently play a critical role in assisting patients in recovering from illness by detecting disease while it is still treatable.
Cell specimens are collected from various body sites, such as the female reproductive tract and the lung, and then placed on slides using specialized techniques. Cytotechnologists microscopically examine the slides, mark cellular changes that indicate disease, and submit a report to the pathologist for final review.
Pathologists can diagnose and treat disease using cytotechnologist findings — in many cases, long before it would be detected otherwise. In recent years, for example, fine needles have been used to aspirate lesions, even those deep within the body.
This has greatly improved the ability to detect and diagnose tumors in previously inaccessible locations. As new cancer screening and identification techniques are developed, cytotechnologists will continue to play an important role in disease diagnosis and treatment.
Who is a cytotechnologist?
Cytotechnology is the microscopic examination of human cells in order to detect cancer, viral and bacterial infections, and other abnormalities.
Precancerous or cancerous cells can be identified using cytotechnology techniques. The Pap test, which evaluates cells from the cervix, is the most well-known application in the field.
Cytotechnologists are laboratory professionals who examine patient cell samples and are trained to detect subtle changes in order to detect precancerous, malignant, and infectious conditions. Cytotechnologists typically collaborate with pathologists.
The Cytotechnologist Job Description
Cytotechnologists study a wide range of diseases discovered by using a microscope to detect abnormalities in human body cells.
Cytogenetic technology, which plays a similar role, focuses on disorders caused by DNA mutations or abnormalities. On an average day, cytotechnologists collaborate with pathologists by:
- Examining specimens under a microscope to determine specimen quality.
- Examining specimens for abnormal hormone levels.
- Examining cell samples for differences in the color, shape, or size of cellular components and patterns.
- Detecting abnormal conditions, preparing and analyzing samples such as Papanicolaou (PAP) smear body fluids and fine needle aspirations (FNAs).
- Providing pathologists with patient clinical data or microscopic findings to aid in the preparation of pathology reports.
- Assisting pathologists or other physicians in obtaining cell samples, such as through fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies.
- Verifying patient and specimen information before documenting specimens.
- Maintaining effective laboratory operations by adhering to specimen collection, preparation, and laboratory safety standards.
- Prepare cell samples by using special staining techniques to differentiate cells or cell components, such as chromosomal staining.
- Send pathologists slides with abnormal cell structures for further examination.
- Repair, maintain, or adjust laboratory equipment such as microscopes. Maintains effective laboratory operations by adhering to specimen collection, preparation, and laboratory safety standards. Laboratory equipment such as microscopes are adjusted, maintained, or repaired.
- Performs karyotyping or chromosome organization using standardized ideograms.
- Using a microscope to examine body cells
- Classifying cells collected through cytological techniques, such as a Pap test, they are classified as normal or abnormal.
- Figuring Changes in human cells that indicate cancer, disease, or other abnormalities
- Working with a pathologist to provide a timely diagnosis so that physicians can provide appropriate treatment.
Work Environment of a Cytotechnologist
Cytotechnologists are employed in hospital laboratories, private laboratories, and universities. They usually work eight-hour days, five days a week.
They spend the majority of their time sitting in front of a microscope, and the repetitive hand motions required to work with microscopes can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. Because of the need for quick and accurate work, it can also be a stressful work environment.
With experience, they may also work in private industry, as supervisors, researchers, or teachers. When evaluating and reporting on normal cells, cytotechnologists may work independently or in close collaboration with a pathologist (when examining cells for indications of disease).
How to Become a Cytotechnologist
Individuals interested in becoming cytotechnologists must have a strong background in biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
They should enjoy working independently, meticulously, and at a microscopic level, and be at ease with a high level of responsibility. Cytotechnology can provide a rewarding career in a critical health care role.
To become a cytotechnologist, you must first obtain a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and then complete an accredited cytotechnology program. Cytotechnology programs generally require at least 28 credits of science, including chemistry and biology.
Although the length of each program varies greatly depending on its organizational structure, the majority of cytotechnology programs require at least one calendar year of formal instruction. The following topics will be covered in the course of study:
- Statistics and/or mathematics
- The scientific method of investigation,
- Laboratory procedures
- Fundamental laboratory techniques
- Cytologic techniques/procedures
- Associated technologies and ancillary testing
- Examination and interpretation
- Professional advancement
Graduates will be able to evaluate a wide range of cytologic preparations after completing the program. Graduates must, however, pass a certification examination in order to become certified cytotechnologist.
Certification and Licensing
Some states require cytotechnologists and other medical laboratory personnel to be licensed. The majority of states do not require licensing, but employers may request certification.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology certifies both Cytotechnologists (CT) and Specialists in Cytology (SCT). The latter requires at least three years of CT experience. Passing scores on an examination are required for each certification.
Recertification necessitates enrollment in a certificate maintenance program – at least for those certified in 2004 or later.
Opportunities and prospects for a Cytotechnologist
Cytotechnologists are well compensated for their knowledge. According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s 2019 wage survey, the average hourly pay for cytotechnologists ranges from $35.84 for staff cytotechnologists to $44.11 for cytotechnologist supervisors and managers. Depending on the job level, the average annual salary ranges from $74,000 to $91,000.
This is slightly higher than the national average for a medical technologist, who works as a generalist in the medical laboratory. According to the MLO, the most important determinant of salary for lab personnel, in general, is job duty/function, which is informed by educational level and years on the job.
Entry-level salaries are lower but still competitive. According to the University of Kansas Medical Center, recent graduates have earned nearly $50,000.
Earnings are also affected by geography. Salary and employment opportunities in this field vary depending on geographic location, experience, and ability, but the demand for experienced cytotechnologists is growing and will continue to grow over the next two decades. Medical laboratory personnel in the Northeast and Pacific regions were paid the most.
Across the country, most laboratory employees received benefits such as medical and dental insurance as well as 401(k) plans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasted job growth for medical technologists from 2008 to 2018.
A shortage is mentioned by several organizations, including the MLO. Job prospects are excellent for the well-qualified, though staffing issues affect the laboratory environment in a minority of cases.
According to the MLO, 84% of lab personnel survey respondents were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. Cytotechnologists have excellent career prospects. Jobs are available in all regions of the country, both rural and urban.
A final thought on the cytotechnologist job description
Cytotechnologists frequently work alone, but they are part of a team. They make independent decisions in some, but not all situations.
When no abnormalities are found, cytotechnologists report their findings. When an abnormality is discovered, a physician makes the final determination. Senior cytotechnologists may perform a variety of tests, such as fine needle aspirations. There isn’t always a clear line between lab tests performed by different specialists.
Cytotechnologists occasionally perform RNA or DNA testing, but more advanced molecular tests are performed by a molecular diagnostic technologist or a molecular cytotechnologist. Some cytotechnologists go on to train in a variety of medical technology fields. Cytotechnologists can work in medical laboratories, public health settings, or large hospitals and medical centers. Many people work in gynecology.
Knowledge of basic biology and medicine principles is required. Finger dexterity and arm/hand steadiness are required. A Cytopathologist must be able to match or detect differences between colors, including color shades and brightness.
Frequently Asked Questions about the job description of a cytotechnologist
Below, you will find the top answers to the most asked questions about the cytotechnologist job description;
- Is a Cytopathologist a doctor?
Cytopathologists are medical doctors who have completed a four-year pathology residency program; many Cytopathologists further their education by completing an approved fellowship program. They are in charge of reviewing and interpreting cytopathology tests.
- Are Cytotechnologists in high demand?
Despite their lack of public visibility, cytotechnologists are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cytotechnologist jobs are growing faster than the national average and pay more than 20% more than the national average.
- What personality traits do cytotechnologists need?
Cytotechnologists are primarily investigative individuals, which means they are inquisitive and curious individuals who enjoy spending time alone with their thoughts.
They are also often realistic, which means they enjoy working outside or working on a hands-on project.
- Where do the majority of cytotechnologists work?
The vast majority of cytotechnologists work in hospitals or commercial laboratories. With experience, they may also work in private industry, as supervisors, researchers, or teachers.
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