History of ASCT

The American Society for Cytotechnology (ASCT) was founded in 1979 by nine dedicated individuals who passionately believed that cytotechnologists needed a national organization in which they could fully participate and shape their profession. The nine founding members were:
 

Patricia R. Ashton
Elsie Carruthers
Catherine M. Keebler
Shirley E. Greening
Angela L. Savino
Margaret J. Harris
Florence Woodworth Patten
Edna Pixley
Marion Danos Holmquist

 

With the support of other active cytotechnologists, they established the American Society for Cytotechnology (ASCT). The ASCT became the first and only organization whose executive board is comprised solely of cytotechnologists. As is still true today, the ASCT provided a venue for discussion and collaboration on issues that uniquely affect cytotechnologists.
 

The purposes of ASCT listed in the original articles of incorporation included:

  • To enhance the role of the cytotechnologist in the health care system
  • To promote the highest professional standards for the practice of diagnostic cytology
  • To stimulate communication and cooperation among those persons actively engaged in the practices of diagnostic cytology
  • To inform the members of current legislative and legal issues pertaining to the profession of cytotechnology
  • To communicate regulations and legislation affecting the profession of cytotechnology so that members will be aware of the laws affecting their work
  • To support and promote educational opportunities for members on the local, regional, national or international levels
     

From the outset, ASCT took a lead role in developing professional standards for cytotechnology and monitoring and responding to legislative and regulatory issues that impacted cytotechnologists. The legislative spotlight in the very first ASCT Newsletter (subsequently renamed ASCT News after the fourth issue, and then ASCT Voice in 2004) focused on the Personnel Standards for the Clinical Laboratory that were proposed in the Federal Register at the time. ASCT’s Professional Standards and Practices Committee developed and introduced a proposal for workload recommendations even prior to the 1987 Wall Street Journal article that highlighted the problem with workload at the time, "Lax Laboratories: The Pap Test Misses Much Cervical Cancer Through Labs’ Errors."

Following the passage of CLIA ’88, ASCT was at the forefront in responding to the Health Care Financing Administration’s (HCFA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking . Representatives from the ASCT spoke before Congressional committees and subcommittees on behalf of the cytotechnology community. In 1989, ASCT was awarded the HCFA contract to survey Cytology laboratories for compliance with the new Federal Laboratory Regulations. A new subsidiary of the ASCT, called ASCT Services Inc., was created to manage this contract. ASCT Services remains the sole owner of this contract, which is now overseen by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Most recently, ASCT has actively represented cytotechnologists on the issue of proficiency testing, soliciting input and feedback from our membership to shape reports presented to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC). The ASCT communicates information on this issue to the membership via the ASCT Voice and website.

ASCT also provides practical resources for cytology managers, cytotechnologists and processing staff to continue their professional learning and growth. Publications include the Guide to Cytopreparation, Cytopathology Quality Assurance Guide, Risk Management for the Cytopathology Laboratory, and Introduction to the Cytopreparation Laboratory, an online learning course. The ASCT also conducts a Cytotechnologist-only wage and employment survey every year to asses the current job market in our profession. In addition to these resources, the ASCT offers affordable and practical annual conferences that provide excellent continuing education in addition to face-to-face networking opportunities.

With support from the ASCT foundation, established in 1998, the ASCT has been able to directly contribute towards the professional development of Cytotechnology students. ASCT offers the opportunity for cytotechnology students to not only attend annual conferences at a discounted rate, but also to present interesting cases at a national venue, with monetary awards for outstanding presentations.

ASCT was born out of a need for an organization that focused specifically on cytotechnology. As part of ASCT’s 25th anniversary celebration at the 2004 Annual Conference, founding member Florence Woodworth Patten described the formation of ASCT in her keynote address, A Need-An Idea-the ASCT, as "a fairly tumultuous labor accompanying its delivery, an infancy and adolescence that have led to a strong and productive organization". Thirty years after its founding, ASCT still focuses on bringing cytotechnologists’ needs and ideas to the forefront in their ever changing work environment.