Cytology is not a smart career path

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Daniel Domogala in Phoenix, Arizona

41 months ago

Do you think Cytotechs at the hospital have a good idea of the field? I also was skeptical because the deadline for my cytotech application was extended, the administrator contacted me telling me to complete it. I originally started filling out an application for a molecular genetics program. I thought that being a cytotech would be more rewarding and the standards are higher. I think I got that idea from talking to an administrator in Tucson, even though there are no cytotech programs offered in state. It's really hard to figure out who has the best idea of the field. What if all of the people on this board are overly pessimistic? Though the trends for the profession don't indicate that.

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jennidalton83 in North Ridgeville, Ohio

41 months ago

Daniel Domogala in Phoenix, Arizona said: Do you think Cytotechs at the hospital have a good idea of the field? I also was skeptical because the deadline for my cytotech application was extended, the administrator contacted me telling me to complete it. I originally started filling out an application for a molecular genetics program. I thought that being a cytotech would be more rewarding and the standards are higher. I think I got that idea from talking to an administrator in Tucson, even though there are no cytotech programs offered in state. It's really hard to figure out who has the best idea of the field. What if all of the people on this board are overly pessimistic? Though the trends for the profession don't indicate that.

Hmm...I have had only hospital positions, so its a bit tough to say whether my view is too overly optimistic compared to private lab employees. I will say this. I have had little to no problem obtaining hospital positions. But I also was okay with having to relocate until I could find something closer to home. This is the biggest problem for many techs; a lot of people have families and other obligations that make it near impossible to move wherever around the country when a position comes up. I think a lot of people really overestimate the time they will have to relocate, also. I only had to move away for 2 years before I found a job closer to home. Then 2 years later, I just got my new job right next to home. On the other hand, I also have friends who were not able to get hospital jobs and had to take jobs at Labcorp. One has quit cytology and is back in school because her experience was so awful, and the other was able to find a hospital job after a few years and has relocated for that.

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

41 months ago

Daniel Domogala in Phoenix, Arizona said: Do you think Cytotechs at the hospital have a good idea of the field? I also was skeptical because the deadline for my cytotech application was extended, the administrator contacted me telling me to complete it. I originally started filling out an application for a molecular genetics program. I thought that being a cytotech would be more rewarding and the standards are higher. I think I got that idea from talking to an administrator in Tucson, even though there are no cytotech programs offered in state. It's really hard to figure out who has the best idea of the field. What if all of the people on this board are overly pessimistic? Though the trends for the profession don't indicate that.

I work in a hospital job and like it but these jobs are very few and far between. After graduation I took a job at the local labcorp and if I hadnt gotten a job in a hospital I would have left the field. Unfortunantly the market is set up to give these miserable private labs a huge competitive advantage over hospital labs. So you are seeing more and more hospitals just give up on even having a cytology department. They just dont have the resources to be able to compete with givng a physician an EMR and huge kickbacks. Especially with reimbursement being cut constantly. Anthem Blue Cross is paying 18 dollars for a thinprep pap test. Hell, supplies cost about 10 dollars.

That school is pushing back their application deadline for a reason. Very few people are interested in the field because the word is out. If you wanna be chained to a cubicle forced to screen 150 or so slides a day, go into cytology. Standards in cyology are getting lower and will continue to as long as people allow it to happen.

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Overly in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

Daniel Domogala in Phoenix, Arizona said: Do you think Cytotechs at the hospital have a good idea of the field? I also was skeptical because the deadline for my cytotech application was extended, the administrator contacted me telling me to complete it. I originally started filling out an application for a molecular genetics program. I thought that being a cytotech would be more rewarding and the standards are higher. I think I got that idea from talking to an administrator in Tucson, even though there are no cytotech programs offered in state. It's really hard to figure out who has the best idea of the field. What if all of the people on this board are overly pessimistic? Though the trends for the profession don't indicate that.

Yes, most of us are overly pessimistic---you nailed us!! Automation, HPV testing, and future advances in both----why fret over that? Im sure there will be a great need for many many new cytotechs in the years to come!

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CytoTech2 in Texas

40 months ago

The American Society of Cytopathology has published an article that may be interesting to everyone in this forum.

The Cytotechnology Workforce: Entrants, Stayers, and Leavers: The Last of the Mohicans and The Ones Who Walk Away

www.cytopathology.org/website/staticdownload.asp?id=3938

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well........ in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

CytoTech2 in Texas said: The American Society of Cytopathology has published an article that may be interesting to everyone in this forum.

The Cytotechnology Workforce: Entrants, Stayers, and Leavers: The Last of the Mohicans and The Ones Who Walk Away

www.cytopathology.org/website/staticdownload.asp?id=3938

I'll let Sam speak to that ridiculous article............The authors didnt seem to want to address the two 800 pound gorillas in the room, those being automation and HPV testing. I heard that the new SurePath Imager does a little south of 200 slides per day.........that's going to create some unwilling "leavers" !!!!!!!!!!!

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

40 months ago

laboratorian.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Market-Dynamics.aspx

That dude that writes for Advance about cytology has a new article out. The title pretty much says it all: "Is it time for a new profession?"

Bout time this guy wrote a good article. His previous ones in advance have been kind of lame.

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

40 months ago

Thanks for posting that ASC bulletin. Mensa is easier to join than the ASC. Never seen so much red tape to join an organization. They complain about only having 3000 members. Bet they could get more if they would make it easier.

Bottom line of the article is the field is shrinking and gonna continue to since the pap is the highest volume test. All the jobs are leaving cause of the imager. Didnt it get FDA approval around 2003 or 2004? Awful big coincidence the jobs been going down steadily since then. I havent seen any data that shows conclusively physicians are following the new guidelines. I've seen a volume increase at my lab. Since you are now free to violate CLIA and screen upwards of 200 slides, there is no labor shortage.

The schools should either add histology training or close. I applaud the ones that have. Seems like Tennessee program does.

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FDA in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

I have to think that eventually, unless some other technology takes the business, automation will improve and be able to do 230, 240, 250 slides max. Up and away.........
So that alone enables me to peer into the future and say that more and more cyto jobs will be done away with.
It seems very logical to me. Already these automated screeners are based on technology that is a decade old. I cant believe that they have hit their stride. I cant believe it from the standpoint of technology itself, nor from the standpoint of profit motive.

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

40 months ago

Too many variables are in play with screening slides. Physician has to sample the lesion, it as to make it off the brush into the vial, the slide that is prepared has to have the diagnostic cells and lastly someone has to see them. You gotta think new tests in development will take a lot of these steps out. Imaged guided pap screening is gonna be a pretty short lived technology.

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FDA in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

Its here to stay, unless something yet unknown or yet unapproved knocks it off-----we can only hope-----but meanwhile, dont be surprised if in the not too distant future people look back on the days when the automated screeners "only" did around 200.......

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FDA in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

Mark Kansas in Wichita, Kansas said: As a cytotechnologist for over 10 years I can tell you that this was a very poor career move. As automation has reduced the need for cytotechs the workplace environment has grown ever more hostile, pay has stagnated, and unless you are willing to live somewhere other than where you are now the job propects are very limited. If you are considering a career in cytology - DON'T! If you are a recent graduate do yourself a favor and go back to college. There are plenty of careers where you will not be treated like a feudal serf. If you must for now work in this field stay sway from the corporate labs, they will treat you like dirt and try to ruin your reputation. At the very least you will treated with a complete lack of respect and open hostility. As for me, I am enrolled in an engineering program and can hardly wait until I graduate (again) from college.

This post deserves a repost!!!!!

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

40 months ago

Kansas posted a lot of truth sadly about the modern day cytology lab. I noticed the work environment was pretty hostile even when I was in school years ago. I figured it was because the field was so heavily women.

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Women cytotechs in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

Women cytotechs TEND to be uppity and snooty and miserable. Indeed the field IS, in fact, "heavily" women................

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Although in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

Women cytotechs in Westborough, Massachusetts said: Women cytotechs TEND to be uppity and snooty and miserable. Indeed the field IS, in fact, "heavily" women................

Although, there ARE some very nice, smoking hot women cytotechs. One in particular, several years ago in the Middle Tennessee area, whose first name started with D, that is all I will say. So hot you were tempted to call the fire department. And she was not snooty, which just increases the hotness to the nth degree. Women, remember that...........

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

40 months ago

I wonder what this poor cytotech looked like. That pathologist should be ashamed. Hopefully the guy isnt working anymore. I hope he wasnt drinking on the job too. Sounds like a real quality lab there, NOT. The administration at that lab is similar to what I have seen at many over the years sadly.

www.mdd.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Opinions/08-346Memorandum.pdf

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quality in Westborough, Massachusetts

40 months ago

Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida said: I wonder what this poor cytotech looked like. That pathologist should be ashamed. Hopefully the guy isnt working anymore. I hope he wasnt drinking on the job too. Sounds like a real quality lab there, NOT. The administration at that lab is similar to what I have seen at many over the years sadly.

www.mdd.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Opinions/08-346Memorandum.pdf[/QUO

That schmuck notwithstanding, the field is pretty pathetic anyway. The labs that are rushing cases through are not exactly what you would call quality, not something you can really be proud to be a part of. Good luck with it all, cytotechs. Hope you are all smart enough to see the writing on the wall and prepare to do something else.

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Dmdurand in Kingston, Rhode Island

25 months ago

go texas in Westborough, Massachusetts said: keep posting, texas. prospective techs need the unvarnished truth. current techs need to wake up. a lot of 'em think they are safe and above it all as long as they park their @$$#$ and do their maximum slides.

RI trained cytotech here. I graduated two years ago and I'm barely scraping by with two PRN jobs.

I was TOLD that everyone is going to be retiring and that the market will have a huge need for cytotechs. That's true. IF and when people retire. This job isn't very physically demanding. It's all mental. Someone who is 90 could do our job as long as they were alert for it. That is why no one is retiring. It makes decent money, and because of the economy, employers when they search people out, get their pick of people who have 10+ years experience.

Don't get me wrong. I love this field and I love the fact that when I slap a slide on the microscope, I have no idea what I'll get. I'm lucky to have two jobs that are heavily dependent on Non-Gyn FNAs. I just wish that I could start a family, and start paying down my student debt. It's frustrating having so much to offer, but no one taking the bait.

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liz in Bloomington, Illinois

15 months ago

I agree with most of these negative comments about cytology. I've been a cytotech for 32 years and have watched the jobs go to these big labs. I've been recently laid off due to cytology work going to the big labs and cannot find work around my community.There just isnt going to be enough jobs in hospitals and cancer centers to condone having 37 schools pumping out nearly 200 techs a year. It has been a shame watching labcorp and quest take over the market killing local community labs. Cytology could have had a future if it stayed local. Then you could do paps and market FNA/NGYN to physicians in the area.

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Sam Kaiserblade in Venice, Florida

15 months ago

Exactly. Techs need to be involved in more interventional procedures like FNAs but most hospitals dont have enough NGYN work to justify many positions. You need the paps to keep the department going while you try to market other services. If the paps are drying up and cytotechs are let go, the hospital just gets used to not having cytology on site and uses med techs or histotechs to assist the FNAs and do NGYN processing. A smaller hospital lab not far from me got rid of their cytotech and now uses a histotech to go on Thyroid FNAs and Bronchs. I guess the lesson is to retrain in histology if you wanna keep your job.

37 schools putting out 200 grads a year for this market is crazy. The number of cytotech positions in the country has been dropping by approx 100 per year since 2005, mostly due to increased productivity. And we really dont know how many techs have seen their job turn to part time. Friend of mine had her hours reduced from 40 to 16 per week. With the new pap test guidelines the number of layoffs could accelerate since we now are left dealing with a huge decrease in demand for our services.

It also doesnt help that in-office labs have taken a large share of business (urinary cytology for one). Most of those places dont employ cytotechs and just use the pathologist to sign out any NGYN work. That work used to go to the local path lab and was much needed revenue for the cytology department.

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garyrickard in Sydney, Australia

9 months ago

grateful in Westborough, Massachusetts said: I think it would be a big mistake to sit back and say "wow, I'm really grateful for my cytology job"........basically, there are 2 reasons for this------
1. It is a dead end terminal job, with very scarce upward mobility.
2. Cytology is "moving to a molecular platform"....TRANSLATION------Your screening skills become less relevant in the marketplace as time goes by.

I agree there are things to be thankful for. I also think there are things that will ultimately stab you in the back that you should run from. Cytology is proving itself the latter more and more.

I work in cytology at a private lab in Sydney, Australia.
90% Gyn work, 10% (if that) Non-Gyn.
Australia still uses conventional glass slide paps, and about 40% (most labs much less) ThinPrep orSure Path.
Soon we will either to all liquid based paps OR HPV DNA testing as the primary screen.

The decision as to which course to take will be released by then end of the year.

We are so behind the rest of the world but……not for long !

So I'm writing to find out what happened when these technologies were introduced in the US?
Obviously jobs were lost but how many? can you estimate the %?
Also, what are you doing now?
What work do you have now?

Thanks

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Recovering from Thanksgiving in Columbus, Ohio

9 months ago

Gary , The liquid based pap apparently was developed for the computerized microscopes and not intended for primary screening by the cytotech . Apparently the reason for its use has more to do with finances than improved accuracy . By itself the liquid based pap probably has not caused any job losses . Here is a study done in The Netherlands and Belgium that did not find any accuracy increases , which contradicts the manufacturers advertising claims :

jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=184784

The computerized microscopes have caused some job losses . A large corporate lab that Westborough applied for abruptly shut down , cytotechs said they were discharged without warning . That lab's cytotechs claimed they were screening ~ 85 slides a day . Rumors claimed that the slides were sent to an automated lab where the techs screen at least 130 slides a day . I heard some claim it was as much as 150 slides / day .

A co-worker of mine claims the computerized microscope is no better than a chimpanzee .

A good many job losses are due in part to new guidelines recommending major reductions in pap smears .

Westy - I think that supervisors name was Fran , an older woman ?

Sam , when I was in the military I was stationed in Australia , Oct 95 through Mar 96 , hot as hell . Not far from Canberra . I picked up some of their slang , and I am still friends with some .

I remember an AUS soldier saying he had to go - We got rellies coming over . I asked " rellies " ? He said - relatives . Oh . Well today , I gotta go watch some American Football with the rellies . Incidently , we have an Australian rules Football league here . It is played with a larger ball than what the " yanks " play with . I do not recall it being very popular in AUS .

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Kmortvedt in Cabot, Arkansas

2 months ago

oldschool in Galesburg, Illinois said: I have worked 34 years in the same hospital . My pay is very low, but I have the respect of all the doctors in the hospital and especially my pathologist. I am treated with the utmost courtesy by everyone. My husband and I get the greatest personal care when needed and this is worth a great deal. I have changed with the times and have no trouble with yearly inspections. I am chosen often to be on inspection teams at other hospitals. I am sometimes amazed at the lack of organization and knowledge by some of my colleagues. I am very proud of my work through the years and am also thankful for my job. The right cytotechnology job can be extremely rewarding and I am glad I chose this field. If I had it to do over I probably would have become a pathologist, but in those days women in that field were discriminated against.

I didn't come across this site by accident...I was actually trying to get a feel for the world of a Cytologist...if it is still a viable career choice.

I certainly got an eyefull, and I'm glad I inquired. It's been over 20 years since I worked in the lab. I used to be a microbiologist in the Navy.

Now, they do have full degreed 4 yr Microbiologist working for the Navy...but they are rare...and only at Major Naval Hospitals, like Bethesda, and Balboa....but a really rare breed on most installations.

At most Naval and Marine Corps stations, your microbiologist is a senior Hospital Corpsman with an (8506 NEC, Advanced Laboratory Technician)...which in Navy terms, cover all the "ologist" in a hospital lab setting.

I mainly worked in microbiology, but I was also a blood banker, a hematologist, serologist, chemist,....those are the main parts of the lab...but all departments include phlebotomy..aka phlebotomist.

to be continued. (space issues)

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Kmortvedt in Cabot, Arkansas

2 months ago

We of couse worked under the supervision a medical technologist (2)...but they were responsible for all the departments. We had 3 pathologist, 3 cyto-techs, 2 histo techs, and us 40 other "ologist."

Before I left the lab...I thought for good...I thought I would reminiss about a fond memory...and at one time I thought about becoming a Cyto-tech.

What intrigued me was that I am still fascinated with the microscope. I bought my son a microscope with a small lab kit when he was 14, and he basically all but ignored it.

So I started playing with it. It was just a one-eye scope for kids in school. It wasn't until I started collecting samples around the house...having way too much fun with their stuff...that it came up missing one day.

I found it years later in the attic. I know my husband hid it. I won't go get it because I'm afraid he may hide it again...this time where I can't find it.

But that's okay. He can hide the kids toys..but not mine. (my son is 26 by the way), and his scope is safe and sound. I want a reason, (able to justify) to buy myself a real microscope.

I appreciate every honest answer and heart felt emotion as I read through these post. I will have to find another reason for this obnoxious purchase as my husband calls it.

P.s. that just proves he hid it...because if someone is asking me for a microscope...I would just go up to the attic and give it to them. LOL.

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