Thomas Jefferson UniversityJefferson School of Health Professions

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Cytotechnology/Cell Sciences

Overview

Cytotechnologists are experts of cell and tissue structure morphology and function, using microscopes, automated imaging systems and sophisticated laboratory techniques to detect and diagnose diseases. They can select and perform molecular and immunologic tests that help to personalize patient care, diagnose a mysterious respiratory illness, assist clinicians in collecting and evaluating specimens from any body site or identify precancerous cells at their earliest and most curable stage. Cytotechnologists work both independently and collaboratively with pathologists, radiologists, oncologists and other members of a healthcare team.

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Cytotechnology at Jefferson

Students learn diagnostic theory and microscopy interpretation and use it to study materials collected from patients. Then they integrate theory and clinical laboratory practice with current patient specimens in clinical practicums which are supervised by experienced cytotechnologists.

Gain classroom, laboratory and practical experience in five areas:

  • cell collection, preparation and staining techniques
  • evaluation criteria for cell and biopsy specimens from all body organs and tissues
  • correlation of clinical information and the patient's history with cytologic diagnosis so that an accurate diagnosis can be reported
  • management of a cytology laboratory budget, inventory, personnel and quality assurance practices
  • how automated cell analysis and molecular diagnostic systems are contributing to and changing the way cytology is practiced

As students, you will:

  • prepare and diagnose cells from real patients
  • process and interpret HPV specimens for molecular and morphologic diagnosis
  • read and differentiate normal biopsies and abnormal/pathologic biopsies at the microscope
  • distinguish effects of inflammation or infections from benign and malignant diseases
  • alert clinicians when submitted specimens are inadequate for diagnosis
  • assist clinicians with collection of endoscopic and fine needle aspiration specimens
  • compare and correlate cellular findings with patients' medical records
  • use digital imaging and virtual microscopy to diagnose disease and communicate with other medical experts

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Outcomes

Jefferson’s cytotech graduates have had a 100% pass rate on certification exams since 2009. Many grads work in hospitals and independent labs in the Philadelphia region. Others continue their studies, pursuing master’s and doctorate degrees in the field.

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Career Options

  • Community Hospital cytology laboratories
  • Medical Center Hospital cytology laboratories
  • Private laboratories
  • Cytotechnology Program teaching positions
  • Sales and technical consultant positions in private companies that market clinical and laboratory equipment and reagents
  • Research positions in private companies working on cancer detection using automated screening or liquid-based or molecular identification techniques

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Certification

National certification in a specialty area of laboratory practice is not only proof of knowledge and competence in a field; it demonstrates value-added expertise that employers seek today. Visit the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification for more information.

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