Required Skills for Cytogenetic Technologists
There is a huge need for additional qualified cytogenetic technologists in the industry today. With requests for professional lab testing services on the rise, the demand for experienced cytogenetic technologists continues to grow. In fact, The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) reports that employment of medical laboratory technologists and technologists is expected to grow by 13%, from 330,600 in 2010 to 373,500 in 2020. Unfortunately, the programs preparing tomorrow’s laboratory workforce are training only about a third of what is needed.
If you are considering a career in this growing field, get started today with your education. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will gain accreditation and start building experience. There are a variety of programs available that prepare interested parties for a career as a cytogenetic technologist.
In addition to academic requirement, see below for key personality traits that make great cytogenetic technologists-technologist.
Self-Discipline and Focus are critical for cytogenetic technologists. Spending the time required to thoroughly study and analyze cases is paramount to maintaining accuracy. A good technologist has an internal set of standards to which they make themselves accountable, and they do not finalize a case until they are certain of its accuracy.
Pattern Recognition plays a key role in cytogenetic testing & analysis and is an important part of processing cases. While this may sound simple, it takes a very attentive eye to recognize the subtleties and minutia involved here. The level of precision required takes someone with a true aptitude for it.
Attention to Detail in any cytogenetic testing lab is of utmost importance. The expectation is to be as close as possible to 100% accuracy. Obviously, a cytogenetic technologist’s findings have a huge impact on people’s lives, so there is no room for error.
While accuracy cannot be overrated, productivity is also a key performance indicator of a good cytogenetic technologist. The industry requires fast turn-around times (TAT) to meet deadlines and provide quality service.
Passion and Drive generate the most productive technologists. To be in the top of the class at anything, you must genuinely care about what you are doing and enjoy it. These traits develop the best technologists.
As mentioned above, employers require cytogenetic technologists to have completed an accredited program and be nationally certified. The most commonly sought-after certification for cytogenetic technicians and cytogenetic technologists is the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification. “The ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) is the gold standard in global certification for medical laboratory professionals and has certified more than 525,000 individuals.” For labs, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification is crucial.
As with most careers, there is as much to be learned on the job as there is in the classroom. Ideally, employers will look for trained and experienced cytogenetic technologists that have been working in the field for 7 – 8 years. While that is certainly not a mandate, the experience typically improves the efficiency and accuracy of technologists because they will have seen and dealt with many more unusual scenarios than someone new to the field.
To learn more about the required skills for becoming a cytogenetic technologist, download the Executive Guide: “Key Considerations When Hiring Great Cytogenetic Technologists.”