What is a Cytotechnologist?

A cytotechnologist is an individual whose days are spent interpreting the condition of cells taken from all over the body of a patient, usually as part of a diagnostic testing procedure. There are a number of different tests that are initially interpreted by a cytotechnologist (the Pap smear and the fine needle aspiration are two of the most common) and their work is vital in helping medical professionals make accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions.

What does a Cytotechnologist actually do?

Whatever the test the manner of interpretation is similar. Once cells have been obtained from a patient they are placed on a microscope slide by the cytotechnologist and examined closely. The cytotechnologist is trained to know whether or not a cell is normal or abnormal, cancerous or precancerous. If the results of a test are negative or benign the cytotechnologist is typically allowed to sign off on the report themselves, only consulting with a senior pathologist if they spot something abnormal.

Where does a Cytotechnologist work?

The majority of cytotechnologists work in hospitals or private laboratories although there are some larger private doctors’ offices, mainly gynecologists, that now maintain their own cytology lab for the convenience of their patients.

In order to become a licensed cytotechnologist a candidate must complete at least a Bachelor’s degree in cytology and then pass a final licensing exam administered by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.