WVU Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center partner on cytotechnology master’s program

WVU Medicine has entered into a three-year agreement to serve as a satellite site for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) Master of Diagnostic Cytology Degree Program.

Cytology is the study of cells, and cytotechnologists are disease detectives who study the cells to identify minute abnormalities in cell structure. Cytotechnologists evaluate specially stained slides of human cells under the microscope to aid in the diagnosis of cancer, precancerous lesions, benign tumors, infectious agents, and inflammatory processes. In addition to microscopic interpretations, cytotechnologists also have patient contact by participating in biopsy procedures called fine needle aspirations.

Cytotechnologists are employed at the professional level in hospital and private laboratories, university medical centers, and government facilities. Because of the increased utilization of cytologic testing for the confirmation of disease, more cytotechnologists are needed.

In entering into this agreement, WVU Medicine becomes the 14th satellite site for the UNMC program and the only cytotechnology training program currently in West Virginia. Other satellite sites are located in Arizona (two locations), California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

“By partnering with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, we will be able to train the cytotechnologists that our Health System and our state so desperately need,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the WVU Health System, said. “We are honored to bring this first-of-its-kind training program here to West Virginia, and we look forward to welcoming the first group of students, who will, hopefully, join our WVU Medicine family as employees in the future.”

The master’s program is a 44-credit hour program that is completed in 16 months. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably a Bachelor of Science degree. Students in the satellite program will be charged the non-resident tuition rate, however, in past admission cycles, all non-resident students received financial support in the form of scholarships and federal financial aid.

Stell Patadji, MD, assistant professor in the WVU Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Laboratory Medicine, will serve as the medical director for the program. She will coordinate the students’ schedule of lectures and practicum experiences, facilitate the completion of courses, participate in teaching lab components of the didactic curriculum, and evaluate trainees to verify the achievement of minimum competencies and requirements to complete the program.

“We are excited about our new partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. This is an incredible opportunity to showcase the diversity and complexity of our routine cytology case and tele-cytology while training the next generation of cytotechnologists. West Virginians can train to be cytotechnologists without having to leave the state,” Dr. Patadji said. “Post-graduate job opportunities will be numerous, given the shortage of cytotechnologists in West Virginia. We are delighted to enter this partnership with the goal of better serving our community.”

The application deadline for the first cohort of students is April 1. Classes will begin in August. For more information on the program, including application information, visit www.unmc.edu/alliedhealth/education/cyto/index.html.