Seven of the 39 accredited cytotechnology education programs in the U.S. have been identified as “at risk” for closure, representing a significant public health threat and underscoring the need for additional program funding in the wake of budgetary cutbacks.
The at-risk programs, identified in collaboration with the American Society of Cytopathology and state associations across the country, points to a trend that could dramatically impact millions of Americans’ access to affordable, quality healthcare.
Issues raised by this trend include:
- Concern over the sustainability of an adequate cytotechnologist workforce
- The fact that for every two new clinical laboratory scientists that enter the field, there are seven preparing to retire
- Assumptions that cervical cytology screening is coming to an end due to the introduction of the human papilloma virus vaccine and the HPV DNA test, despite women’s continued need for current cytology services
- Budget constraints faced by administrators looking to contain costs who may target cytology programs without taking into account impact on women’s health
For example, in Virginia a $2.5 billion deficit along with a law requiring a balanced budget has caused many local services, including state-funded schools, to brace for significant cuts—this pattern is found in states throughout the country.
In light of these findings, the College of American Pathologists and ASC will continue to advocate with state associations for legislative action to stabilize cytotechnology training funding and assure patient access to critical women’s health services.