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Career Story: Cytotechnologist At A Public Health Laboratory

Cytotechnologist At A Public Health Laboratory

Job Title: Manager Of Health Lab. Cancer Cytology Dept.

Type of Company: Public health lab

Education: BS, Biology, Mary Washington College •• certificate in Cytotechnology, Medical College of Virginia

Previous Experience: I ran the cytology dept at a small hospital for fifteen years. I've worked for the same lab here for eleven years now.

Job Tasks: Our department diagnoses pap tests for women seen at local health departments all over North Carolina. We receive the specimens from the health departments and process them in the cytoprep lab where slides are made and stained. These slides are processed through a machine called an imager which looks at twenty-two different fields on each slide and picks areas where it thinks the cells are abnormal. The cytotechs whom I supervise then put these slides on their automated microscopes and these point them to the trouble spots where they make a decision on the type of cellular problem. The cytotech can also screen the entire slide to make a diagnosis.

My job is to make sure that we provide good service. I do quality control and quality assurance reports, I make decisions, I represent my department on state committees. I post positions, interview and make hiring decisions. I maintain a budget and work with contract providers. I supervise day-to-day activities. I attend lab meetings. I attend continuing education seminars, teleconferences, web-inars, conference calls, etc. I troubleshoot problems, talk with health department staff, and write more reports. I handle scheduling. I love my job.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Reprimanding employees and giving out remedial action are the worst part of this job. I also hate mediating disputes and dealing with unreasonable people.

The best part is knowing that the job we do provides a beneficial and necessary service to high-risk female patients who might not routinely be tested.

Job Tips:
1.) Make sure you can sit at a microscope for hours and look at millions of cells every day.

2.) Get your BS in Biology or Chemistry and graduate from a Cytotechnology program (often a graduate course).

3.) Bring to your job an attitude that you are important to the health of the people you encounter through their specimens. You must not think of each slide as just a specimen. Each slide represents a life.

Additional Thoughts: My job just relates to the gynecological specimens of cytology. Cytology also diagnoses disease in body fluids, aspirations, sputum, bronchial washings, urine, etc. The cytotechnologist uses knowledge, instinct, and investigative skills every day.

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