Our main focus is on education.
The Society has, for some time, recognised the importance of encouraging members to maintain, update and improve their diagnostic skills in cytopathology. Since the main focus of activity of the Society is educational, the Council of the Society approved the establishment of a working party to explore the issue of continuing education for cytotechnologists with a view to recommending a program suitable for adoption by the Society. The Society considers that a program of this nature would improve the professional and educational standards of members working in the field. A continuing education program would address all aspects of diagnostic cytology including gynaecological, non-gynaecological and fine needle aspiration cytology. However, gynaecological cytology forms a major component in many Australian laboratories and due emphasis would be placed in this area. This would contribute to quality reporting of cytology specimens which is an important step in the screening pathway for the prevention of cervical cancer. This program will be specifically aimed at non-medical members as medically qualified members of the Society are covered by current initiatives being developed by the Royal College of Pathologist of Australasia. The chairman of the working party was Dr Darrel Whitaker and members of the party included Dr Phillip Baird, Dr Jane Twin and Mr Mark Stevens.
The aims of the continuing education project were to:
- Develop a suitable program for cytotechnologists in Australia that will have a high level of compliance and provide regular feedback and performance indicators that meet the needs of authorities such as NPAAC. Such a program needs to have three components:
- The development of adequate opportunities for cytotechnologists to become involved in post-graduate activities such as tutorials, workshops, access to cytology journals and literature.
- To provide a means by which individuals can gain credit for participation in these activities. This could be achieved by keeping a personal diary of activities and submitting this information to a centre which collates the material, analyses the data and provides feedback to individuals. This would enable participants to compare their own performance with that of a peer group profile.
- The program needs to be relevant to the daily work and responsibilities of cytotechnologists and be structured in such a way that encourages on-going participation in the scheme. The program must be easy to use and utilise efficiently the time and effort of participants.
- Determine the resources and costs of establishing and maintaining a suitable program.
- Evaluate the development of educational and teaching aids for use by participants in the program.
As a result of the establishment of the working party a continuing education program for cytotechnologists was introduced. The program was launched at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Society of Cytology which was held in Canberra in October 1997. The inaugural year of the scheme (1998) attracted a lot of interest from cytotechnologist members and by the end of the year, approximately 240 had registered for the scheme. A review of the scheme took place at the end of the first year and registrants are now receiving their peer review profiles and certificates of participation.
Following the implementation of the scheme, the working party was disbanded. The Society established a Board of Education to overseas the running of the CEC Program and co-ordinate educational initiatives within the Society. The inaugural meeting of the Board was held at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the ASC which was held at the Gold Coast in October 1998. The Chairman of the Board was Dr Darrel Whitaker, and members included Dr Phillip Baird, Dr Lesley Smith, Dr Val Surtees, Ms Linda Beckett and Mr Mark Stevens.
The terms of reference of the Board are as follows:
- Provide a focus for education and training within the ASC and to foster educational activity in diagnostic cytology by its membership.
- Provide support to the CEC Scheme for cytotechnologists.
- Provide support to Cytoletter, the Society’s newsletter.
- Provide a reference group on all matters dealing with education in cytology.
- Initiate or support other possible educational activities of the ASC such as broadsheets, the Website and other forms of teaching aids.
- Responsible for vetting overseas qualifications of those who apply for membership of the ASC.
- Establish links with other organisations where there is common interest in the provision of education.
Requests for further information can be e-mailed via the ASC office