The American Society for Cytotechnology (ASCT) members kicked up their heels this year at the 2010 ASCT Annual Scientific Conference in Austin, TX, from Apr. 9-11. Featuring general sessions, educational luncheons, video microscopy workshops, student presentations, a silent auction and an exhibit hall, the more than 125 attendees discussed the challenges and benefits of their jobs in cytology at the Hyatt Regency Austin.
|TEXAS STYLE: This year's annual American Society for Cytotechnology meeting was held in sunny Austin, TX. Courtesy Amanda Koehler
Shaping the Future
On Friday, Apr. 9, Lynnette Savaloja, SCT(ASCP), cytopathology technical supervisor, Regions Hospital, St. Paul, MN, presented "Cytotechnology: Using Our Past to Shape Our Future."
Savaloja discussed challenges the profession faces, including declining student enrollment and the changes the HPV vaccine will bring, but stressed cytotechnologists can find solutions.
"Every profession goes through changes," she explained. "The big take home message is how we're going to adapt to the change."
Savaloja used a lot of data to back up her opinions. First, she cites the ASCP-Cytotechnology Workforce Survey, which was also sponsored by ASCT and the American Society of Cytopathology. The survey noted there are 6,000 cytotechnologists practicing in the U.S. in any given year. The survey also showed Pap test volumes are staying mostly stables, despite the HPV vaccine, and that fine needle aspiration (FNA) volumes are increasing, Savaloja said.
She also discussed the recent ASCT Wage and Vacancy Survey. "The data gives a strong indication cytotechs are uncertain about the future of the profession, and they have a desire to have a greater opportunity for career advancement," Savaloja said. Additionally, she mentioned over 57 percent of the cytotechnologists surveyed said they might leave the field in 10 years of less, and that almost 24 percent have been in the field for 10 years or less.
"Some people might look at us as a stepping stone. We want people to be staying with us in the future," she asserted.
Another survey examined cytotechnology schools. Currently, there are 34 accredited schools across the nation, and most of them are not filled to capacity. Savaloja also noted the highest reason to close programs isn't necessarily lack of student interest but financial problems within the schools.
Despite obstacles, Savaloja said cytotechnologists need to work together to ensure a successful future for the profession.
"It is our responsibility to work with our professional organizations to lead the effort to help us adopt to the change," she stated. "This is our profession, and we have the power to shape it to support the practice of cytopathology in the future."
On Saturday, Apr. 10, Vivian Pijuan-Thompson, PhD, CT(ASCP), program director and assistant professor, Cytotechnology Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham, presented "Quality Clinical Experiences: An Integral Component of Cytotechnology Education."
Dr. Pijuan-Thompson discussed an informal survey she sent via e-mail to cytotechnology educators. She received responses from 18 of the 34 active programs. She asked how long students rotate at clinical sites. The range was from 8-28 weeks, with the average being 14.6 weeks.
She also asked the educators, "What are the top three issues of concern when students are at clinical sites?" She received the following response:
- professional behaviors, including tardiness (28 percent) and dress code (28 percent);
- use of portable electronic devices (11 percent)
- lack of participation in procedures (11 percent);
- lack of personnel at sites (11 percent);
- accurate record keeping (11 percent);
- and maintaining clinical sites (11 percent).
Thirty-three percent stated having a clinical guide/manual has been instrumental in eliminating issues.
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