Cytopathology is a main subpecialty of Anatomic Pathology. A cytotechnologist's job is to find the needle in the haystack. They examine cellular samples under a microscope, looking for infections, benign diseases, and even signs of cancer.
There are several career options in cytopathology that provide a hands-on approach to some of the mysteries in heatlh care:
Cytology Prep Technician
Cytology prep techs are the foundation of a cytology laboratory. Prep techs support cytotechnologists and pathologists by preparing specimens, operating instruments, staining and cover-slipping. They are usually the first members to handle the specimens and are responsible for making sure the laboratory has received the correct specimen type for the test requested. A cytology prep tech is also responsible for performing data entry of patient and specimen information including transcription of patient history.
A cytotechnologist's duties include screening cell samples using a microscope, identifying abnormal cells, identifying cancer, infections and benign diseases. Some assist with quality control activities or specimen preparation. Other cytotechnologists assist with procedures in radiology, physician offices, or surgical areas of a hospital. During the procedure, cells are extracted and evaluated for cancer.
A cytology supervisor oversees the processing of specimens by prep technicians and the screening of patient cases by cytotechnologists. The supervisor maintains the safety of the laboratory and employees by making sure lab staff are performing their assigned duties correctly. Other tasks of a cytology supervisor may include leading quality assurance projects, reviewing reports for accuracy, reviewing quality assurance statistics and writing technical procedures. A cytology supervisor is concerned with staying up-to-date on new information and techniques in anatomic pathology and incorporating that knowledge into enhancing the lab.