Journal of Pathology Informatics Journal of Pathology Informatics
Contact us | Home | Login   |  Users Online: 537  Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size 

Table of Contents    
J Pathol Inform 2012,  3:6

All aboard: Cytotechnology student training in pathology informatics

1 Cytotechnology and Histotechnology Schools; Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, USA
2 Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, USA

Date of Submission14-Nov-2011
Date of Acceptance04-Dec-2011
Date of Web Publication29-Feb-2012

Correspondence Address:
Liron Pantanowitz
Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2153-3539.93403

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Modery J, Khalbuss WE, Pantanowitz L. All aboard: Cytotechnology student training in pathology informatics. J Pathol Inform 2012;3:6

How to cite this URL:
Modery J, Khalbuss WE, Pantanowitz L. All aboard: Cytotechnology student training in pathology informatics. J Pathol Inform [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Jan 28];3:6. Available from:


Pathology informatics is now recognized as an important component of pathology training. [1],[2] Learning objectives and rotations in informatics have been established in an effort to train pathology residents. [3],[4] Educated residents and formally trained informatics fellows play an important role in the future of this specialty. However, the success of pathology informatics also relies on the competencies of their allies (pathology assistants, cytotechnologists, medical technologists) in informatics. While the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) offers some informatics training to medical technologists through its "Qualification in Laboratory Informatics" program, unfortunately insufficient attention has been dedicated toward training the various technologists in the field of pathology.

The Anisa I. Kanbour School of Cytotechnology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recently updated their curriculum to include a course in informatics for its cytotechnology students. The hospital-based, 12-month program for postbaccalaureate biology graduates has traditionally been based mainly on training in morphology and limited to ancillary studies. However, in order to keep abreast with changes in the practice of cytopathology (e.g., molecular pathology and informatics), [5],[6] modifications of the curriculum were deemed necessary to reflect current practices.

In addition to keeping pace with evolving technologies in the field, impetus for this change in cytotechnology student training was partially market driven. Demands for new graduates who have a more diverse technical background than just morphologic skills are more desirable first-hires. In response to changing skill requirements, the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC) published a white paper in 2010 regarding the future needs of the profession. [7] The ASC commissioned the Forbes group whose findings outlined forces that might lead to the emergence of new professions or roles in cytology. The group emphasized the need to create new skills and expanding traditional roles merging morphologic skills with new technologies for the profession's survival. Professional predictions of traditional microscopy obsolescence, new guidelines calling for less frequent Pap testing, and the digitization of proficiency testing [8] necessitated course modernization.

As a result, eight cytotechnology students were exposed to pathology informatics practices and technologies in the form of an interactive 2-day course. To the best of our knowledge, the school of cytotechnology at UPMC is currently the first of 31 accredited programs in the USA to offer a structured, formal informatics course. The course was provided by the collaborative effort between the school of cytotechnology and informatics division in the department of pathology. The goals of this course were to introduce the students to the fundamentals of pathology informatics (e.g., terminology, basic computing, coding, data management, etc.), explain and demonstrate to them various information technologies (e.g., laboratory information systems, digital imaging, telecytology, etc.), and offer them "hands-on" experiences (e.g., scanning glass slides to create whole slide images, perform internet literature searches). Students were required to construct a presentation of an interesting case in which they inserted both static and virtual images into the final report.

The course was well received by the students who completed a questionnaire about it. The course evaluations indicated the participants' overall satisfaction, with only slight reservation concerning the impact informatics will play in their future practices. Following the course, students were more comfortable with digital imaging, and even able to access the institution's digital slide teaching sets in preparation for their final examinations [Figure 1]. While informatics training may be considered important by many technologist training programs, inadequate resources and lack of formal, structured programs may limit training. Therefore, we recommend that programs begin to partner with pathology departments who have informatics resources to leverage their faculty and equipment such as whole slide scanners. In the near future we can anticipate that well-trained cytotechnologists will begin to fill a niche for informatics within pathology departments.
Figure 1: Example of a digital slide teaching set for cytotechnology students

Click here to view

   References Top

1.Goldberg-Kahn B, Healy JC. Medical informatics training in pathology residency programs. Am J Clin Pathol 1997;107:122-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Harrison JH Jr, Stewart J 3rd. Training in pathology informatics: Implementation at the University of Pittsburgh. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1019-25.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Henricks WH, Boyer PJ, Harrison JH, Tuthill JM, Healy JC. Informatics training in pathology residency programs: Proposed learning objectives and skill sets for the new millennium. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1009-18.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Kang HP, Hagenkord JM, Monzon FA, Parwani AV. Residency training in pathology informatics: A virtual rotation solution. Am J Clin Pathol 2009;132:404-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Goulart RA. Cytotechnologists today: Much more than "pap-ologists" with schools in need of our support. Am J Clin Pathol 2008;129:523-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Pantanowitz L, Hornish M, Goulart RA. Informatics applied to cytology. Cytojournal 2008;5:16.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
7.ASC Multidisciplinary Steering Committee on the Future of Cytopathology. Facing the future of cytopathology: discerning the future needs of our profession. Available from:[Last accessed on 2011 Nov 13].  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Marchevsky AM, Wan Y, Thomas P, Krishnan L, Evans-Simon H, Haber H. Virtual microscopy as a tool for proficiency testing in cytopathology: A model using multiple digital images of Papanicolaou tests. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1320-4.  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Figure 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Digital Applications in Cytopathology: Problems, Rationalizations, and Alternative Approaches
Nikolaos Chantziantoniou,Maheswari Mukherjee,Amber D. Donnelly,Liron Pantanowitz,R. Marshall Austin
Acta Cytologica. 2018;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]




   Browse articles
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded332    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal