Deanna K. Iverson, MHS, MLT(ASCP)SCTCM, HTL

ASCP Board of Governors Liaison to Cytotechnology Exam Committee

The ASCP BOC has been celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year.  The BOC has certified over 550,000 laboratory professionals since it was founded in 1928.  Previously known as the ASCP Board of Registry, the BOC is the only medical laboratory certification agency that has American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation.  The principal components of the BOC include the Board of Governors (BOG), Examination Committees and the ASCP BOC staff.

BOC Board of Governors

The ASC has long supported the BOC by being a participating member organization.  The ASC nominates an individual every three years to represent ASC on the BOC Board of Governors (BOG).  The work of the BOG is to further the mission of the BOC, which is to provide excellence in certification of laboratory professionals on behalf of patients worldwide.  In addition to the ASC, the other member organizations that make up the BOC BOG include the following:

American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)
American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC)
American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA)
Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT)
American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS)
American Society of Hematology (ASH)
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA)
National Society for Histotechnology (NSH)

Representatives to the BOG are selected according to the guidelines below and all members serve a three-year term, which can be renewed twice, for a maximum of nine years. 

  • 5 ASCP Fellows
    (One Fellow with dual membership in ASH)
  • 5 ASCP Laboratory Professional Members 
    (One Member with dual membership in AACC)
  • 4 Representatives of ASCLS
  • 2 Representatives of AGT
  • 1 Member from each Participating Society 
    (AABB, AAPA, ASM, ASC, CLMA and NSH)
  •  Public Member

The BOG meets twice a year.  Members elected to the Executive Committee, appointed as liaisons to the Examination Committees and/or appointed to working committees, such as Policy and Procedure, Exam Oversight, Ethics to name a few, have additional meetings throughout the year.

Cytotechnology Examination Committee

The BOC Examination Committees are the heart of the BOC.  Without them, there would be no certification exams.  These committees are responsible for the development, maintenance and evaluation of test items.  They are also responsible for setting the standards for examinations and performing job task analyses to determine exam content.  Examination Committees meet every year and the Committee Chairs are required to present a report to the BOG at the BOG annual meeting on the work done by the committee.

It is important to know that the BOC commits to the following:

  • Perform practice analyses every five years
  • Review exam questions annually for relevance and validity
  • Update the exam database with new content to allow for industry and technology changes
  • Engage content experts from a broad spectrum of experience and geographical areas to comprise the exam committees
  • Remain ANSI accredited
  • Publish an exam from updated exam database within five years

This year, the Cytotechnology Exam Committee will meet June 20-21 in Chicago at the ASCP BOC office.  During this two-day meeting, the committee will review exam items and statistics, write new exam items, review eligibility requirements, content outlines, and suggested reading lists.  This is done for the U.S. [CT(ASCP), SCT(ASCP)] and international [(CTgyn (ASCPi), CT(ASCPi)and SCT(ASCPi)] cytotechnology examinations.  Any changes the committee makes pertaining to the eligibility requirements for an exam must be presented to and approved by the BOC BOG.  Periodically, the committee works with the BOC Staff to develop a practice analysis or perform standard setting for the examinations.  Data from the practice analysis is used to determine the content of the exams.  When you receive an email from the BOC asking you to complete a practice analysis, it is important to take the time to do this so that the content of the cytotechnology examinations reflect the current practice.

The Cytotechnology Examination Committee has been committed to following the work of the ASC-ASCP Task Force on the future of cytotechnology, keeping committee members informed on how the profession is evolving. 

Assignments for the meeting are given in January to give committee members adequate time to complete their assignments prior to the meeting.  Cytotechnologist committee members who are not required to participate in the Certification Maintenance program (CMP), are encouraged to participate voluntarily to demonstrate support of the program.  The members of the current Cytotechnology Exam Committee are as follows. 

Michael Berry, SCT(ASCP)CMMBCM, UtahCommittee Chair

Michael Martinak, SCT(ASCP)CM, New Jersey

Christine Alvares, CT(ASCP)CM, California

David Chhieng, MD, FASCP, Washington

Jorge Franco, MLT(ASCP)SCTCM, HTLCM, MBCM, Texas

Aparna Mahajan, MD, Wisconsin

Maoxin Wu, MD, PhD, New York

Deanna Iverson, MHS, MLT(ASCP)SCTCM, HTL, BOG Liaison

The committee includes working cytotechnologists and cytopathologists from academic and non-academic practices from various geographic areas of the country. 

2018 Cytotechnology Examination Statistics

Each year, the Cytotechnology Examination Committee looks at the number of individuals taking the various cytotechnology exams along with the exam statistics and compare these data to previous years.  It is important to evaluate these data as the profession evolves and the number of cytology programs in the US continues to decline.

U.S. CT(ASCP) and SCT(ASCP) Certification Exams:

CT Certification: 135 individuals sat for the CT exam (compared to 131 in 2017). The pass rate was 82% (compared to 78% in 2017).  The first time pass rate for individuals completing CAAHEP/NAACLS programs was 87%, comparable to the 86% pass rate in 2017.  As of December 31, 2018, the total number of certified CT(ASCP) was 16,189.  The number of individuals taking the CT examination in the past eleven years is shown below in Table 1.  The number of examinees has remained constant over the past four years. 

The BOG monitors all certification exams with fewer than 25 examinees.  The BOC with the help of the Examination Committees are tasked with finding ways to increase the number of examinees.  If the number of examinees remains low, the exam may be discontinued.  The number of examinees for the SCT examination has been consistently below the threshold over the past eleven years, except for 2011.

Despite the small number of individuals taking the SCT exam, the BOG continues to support the recommendation of the Cytotechnology Examination Committee to maintain the SCT certification exam given the changes that are occurring in the cytology profession and the ongoing development of a mid-level pathology practitioner.  Most cytotechnologists who take the SCT examination report that they take the exam for their own personal development.  Many do not take the exam because it is not required by their employers, but it can be one way to set oneself apart from those who do not to take the exam.  Based on the content outline for the SCT, there is a greater emphasis on nongynecological fine needle aspiration cytology and laboratory management than the CT exam.  If you are a cytotechnologist who hasn’t taken the SCT exam, please consider taking it.  As the roles of cytotechnologists continue to evolve, having the SCT certification could lead to more job opportunities.  To a prospective employer, it can be used to demonstrates personal initiative to your professional development and may set you apart from another candidate.  As a BOC partner organization, the ASC can help promote SCT certification at the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting and at the ACE Meetings.

International Cytology Exams:

The first BOC certification in cytotechnology was offered in 2010 and was the CTgyn(ASCPi), followed by the CT(ASCPi) and SCT(ASCPi) certification exams in 2015. 

CTgyn(ASCPi) Certification: 12 individuals took the examination in 2018; 6 of 12 (50%) passed the exam.  As of December 31, 2018, the total number of international certified CTgyn(ASCPi) since 2010 is 65. 

CT(ASCPi) Certification: 8 individuals took the exam in 2018; 7 of 8 (88%) passed the exam.  As of December 31, 2018, the total number of individuals with CT(ASCPi) certification since 2015 is 18. 

SCT(ASCPi) Certification:  Since this exam was first offered in 2015, one individual took and passed this exam in 2018.

Volunteering for BOC Examination Committees

As committee members terms end and vacancies occur, volunteers with appropriate characteristics are sought to complement the existing composition and ensure a diverse membership.  Volunteers must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Be certified or qualified by the BOC, preferably with current CMP status.
  2. Be a member of a BOG sponsoring, participating or collaborating society.
  3. Have special expertise as required by the committee or work group.

Individuals wishing to volunteer to participate on an exam committee need to complete the on-line volunteer application available on the BOC website.  The application can be found under BOC Governance, Exam Committees, Volunteer (https://www.ascp.org/content/board-of-certification/about-boc).