Ninety percent of cytotechnologists employed in Mississippi, and all of those employed at the Medical Center, received their training at the School for Health Related Professions. The positive impact they've had on the health of women in the state is undeniable.
However, the Bachelor of Science in Cytotechnology program graduated its final class last month. Due to advances in technology and changes in screening guidelines that have had drastic effects on the field, the program is no longer accepting new students.
In the 1960s the outlook changed for women's reproductive health. The American Cancer Society (ACS) publicly promoted a test developed by George N. Papanicolaou in the '20s, and doctors in the United States began routinely testing women for early cervical cancer, reducing the cervical cancer death rate today by 70 percent, according to the ACS.
The test was the Pap smear, and the birth of a new career - cytotechnology - brought with it the decline of cervical cancer deaths.
The cytotechnologist analyzes the Pap stained smears under a microscope to detect changes in size and shape and slight variation in the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells to judge whether or not the patient has pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. It is meticulous work and requires independent decision-making skills.