What is the job of a cytotechnologist?
Almost everyone is familiar with the term “pap test.” The pap test is collected during an annual gynecological exam. Pap tests are a critical prescreening test for cervical cancer and women are typically urged to have these tests done annually in order to prevent and detect cervical cancer and other infectious diseases. Cytotechnologists interpret pap tests by examining the slide under a microscope to determine if there are abnormalities.
Interpreting pap tests is only one example of what a cytotechnologist does. Cytotechnologists interpret cells from all body sites.
What employment settings are available for cytotechnologists?
The majority of cytotechs work in hospitals or private cytology labs. In a private lab setting these individuals typically examine pap smears to look for atypical cells, and other pathogens such as herpes and fungus. In the hospital setting cytotechs may read slides from Fine Needle Aspirations (FNAs), or those for non-gynecological and gynecological (pap test) specimens.
Although it is not common, some large family practices and gynecological practices hire cytotechs to screen slides and then have an on call pathologist to review anything the cytotech identified as cause for concern.
Cytotechs are also able to teach cytology courses, sell cytology equipment and tools, conduct research, provide peer review by inspecting cytology laboratories, and volunteer in third world countries where cervical cancer is the number one cause of death for women.
As a cytotech one can also become active in their state and national societies or even be employed by them. Also, one can write and publish research papers on the topic of cytology for professional journals.
Finally, if one has the desire to travel around the country or world they could work as a cytologist for a temp or travel company. Locations with shortages of cytologists employ those working for a travel company for a predetermined contracted time.