Diagnostic Cytology Curriculum

Semester 1 – Fall

GYCY113 – Gynecologic Cytology

This is the first course in the program pertaining specifically to Diagnostic Cytology. Focusing primarily on the foundational knowledge required to assess patient samples, in particular the Pap test. The Gynecologic Cytology course provides a detailed look at the current theories related to the conventional and liquid-based “Pap Test.” Detailed morphologic appearance of normal, benign, pre-cancerous and cancerous cells from the Female Reproductive System is correlated with clinical information and patient impact. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a known cause of cervical cancer, is covered in great detail including the impact of HPV testing and the HPV vaccine. Procurement and preparation of conventional and liquid based gynecologic specimens are discussed as a paramount component to correct interpretation of the specimen. The bright field microscope is the primary instrument utilized in Diagnostic Cytology and is covered in detail. Screening programs for the early detection of cancer are introduced and historical perspectives are integrated where appropriate. Quality Management and Quality Assurance Procedures are introduced related to areas such as specimen adequacy, specimen procurement, diagnostic interpretation, microscope maintenance and the use of The Bethesda System standardized reporting terminology. General laboratory safety, infection control practices are also introduced in this course. Material covered in Microanatomy and Histotechnique I and Pathology I is integrated with Gynecologic Cytology. Upon completion of this course, the student will have the foundation knowledge and skills required for the interpretation of the Pap Test/Smears.

This course includes 8 weeks of online study and 6 weeks of residential labs (25 hours per week).

MDCY110 – Molecular Theory

This course is intended to provide the learner with an introduction and/or review of foundational knowledge that will be built on as the student progresses through the Diagnostic Cytology program. This knowledge will be applied later in the Diagnostic Cytology program and in clinical practice. The MDCY110 course has two main interrelated subject areas: Immunology and Molecular Diagnostics.

Immunology is the study of host reactions when foreign substances are introduced into the body. This course will review and expand on the basic and advanced concepts of Immunology as it relates to theory and practice in Diagnostic Cytology.

Immunology topics include:

  • Basic concepts of immunity
  • Antigens and antibodies
  • Characteristics and functions of granulocytes, mononuclear cells, lymphocytes, plasma cells and soluble mediators of immunity
  • Principles of immunology applied to HLA typing

Molecular Diagnostics are procedures based on the detection and analysis of DNA and RNA. This relatively new field of investigation has multiple applications in Diagnostic Cytology. The testing modalities contribute to the prediction, diagnosis and treatment of disease and health processes.

Molecular Diagnostic topics include:

  • Structure, function and synthesis of DNA and RNA, and proteins
  • Methods for preparation and analysis of nucleic acids
  • Methods for detection of mutations in human DNA
  • Variations in the human genome used in human identification
  • Applications of molecular diagnostics in detection and identification of microorganisms and genetic diseases
  • Applications of molecular diagnostics in detection and identification of somatic mutations in cancer
  • Molecular diagnostic and serological approaches to analysis of the immune system
  • Ethical issues in molecular diagnostics

MHCY112 – Microanatomy and Histotechnique 1

Microanatomy and Histotechnique 1 includes the theory and practical skill development involved in the preparation of tissues for microscopic study. Students will learn how the four basic tissues are arranged in different proportions to form organs in the body systems. Normal microanatomy of the Female Reproductive System is covered in detail. In addition, students will learn the techniques used in Histotechnology, the branch of medical laboratory science involved in the preparation of tissue. These techniques are grouped into the following subject areas: accessioning, grossing, fixation, tissue processing, embedding, microtomy and the routine H&E staining technique.

By the end of this course, the student will have the knowledge and skill required to identify the Four Basic Tissues and tissues from the Female Reproductive System using virtual slides. In addition, the student will have the knowledge and skill to successfully complete all the steps required to produce a tissue section for microscopic review.

An understanding of normal histology is paramount to the understanding of the cellular changes encountered in Pathology and Diagnostic Cytology. Therefore, Microanatomy and Histotechnique 1 is taken concurrently with Pathology I and Gynecologic Cytology.

This course includes 8 weeks of online study and 6 weeks of residential labs (3 hours per week).

PGCY112 – Pathology 1

This is the first of two courses in pathology. This course complements the learning acquired in the Gynecologic Cytology course and provides the basis for further knowledge development in Pathology II.

This course will provide Diagnostic Cytology students with a general understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of common disease processes. Principles of disease processes including degeneration, inflammation and neoplasia are covered. Structural and functional consequences of these processes are discussed. The course begins with mechanisms of disease common to all organ systems. The pathology specific to the Female Reproductive System is then covered in detail. Common pathologic processes of the area and specific processes are emphasized. These specific processes are those pertinent to the types of samples and disease processes encountered by the Cytotechnologist. Examples include but are not limited to: cysts, polyps, hyperplasia/hypertrophy, and carcinoma. The course material is integrated on a weekly basis with other courses in the program.

Semester 2 – Winter

BAIP125 – Foundations of Interprofessional Collaboration for Medical Laboratory Technology Programs

Interprofessional practice has become a preferred mode of team based practice in health care internationally. This is an online course for Diagnostic Cytology, Genetics Technology and Medical Laboratory Science students to build knowledge of interprofessional practice and collaboration. The first step towards interprofessional practice is a solid foundation of your professional role including expectations with respect to legislation, standards of practice, codes of ethics, consent, confidentiality/privacy etc. These foundational pieces will be developed throughout this course with an eye to meeting and exceeding the required provincial and national competencies surrounding professional responsibilities. Building on this foundation, the course will further introduce students to the concepts and support for interprofessional collaboration and education as well as reflective practice, effective communication, teamwork and conflict management. Each of these components are essential skills in interprofessional practice. Students will engage in self-directed weekly learning activities, participate in six online discussions and attend three face-to-face on site workshops during this course.

MDCY120 – Molecular Diagnostics

This course will provide the theory and hands-on experience of molecular laboratory techniques that are relevant to Diagnostic Cytology.  The student will acquire the knowledge, skills and techniques required to process specimens from receipt and molecular testing to analysis of results. Interpretation and troubleshooting will be stressed.

MHCY122 – Microanatomy and Histotechnique 2

Microanatomy and Histotechnique II combines the theory and practical skills involved in the preparation of tissue slides for microscopic study with recognition of tissues from major body systems.  In the first microanatomy course, students learned how the four basic tissues are arranged in different proportions to form the body systems. In this course, normal microanatomy of major body systems is discussed in detail.

Ancillary techniques used in Pathology including electron microscopy, special staining/histochemistry and immunocytochemistry are also covered. Students will develop an understanding of ancillary testing and special staining techniques and their contribution to the diagnosis of disease processes.

An understanding of normal histology is paramount to the understanding of cellular changes encountered in Pathology and Diagnostic Cytology.  Therefore, the Microanatomy and Histotechnique II course runs concurrently with the Pathology II (PGCY122) and Non-gynecological Cytology courses (NGCY122).

This course includes 9 weeks of online study and 5 weeks of residential labs (3 hours per week).

NGCY122 – Non-gynecologic Cytology

The information contained within this course expands on the basic concepts and knowledge derived from first semester courses including Gynecologic Cytology, Pathology 1 and Microanatomy and Histotechnique 1.

Non-gynecologic Cytology covers the detailed morphological appearance of normal, non-neoplastic and neoplastic cellular features from each non-gynecologic body site, correlated with clinical information and patient impact. Collection techniques and preparatory methods are discussed as a vital first step in obtaining optimal diagnostic material. Examination of routine samples is followed by fine needle aspiration cytology. The role of imaging technologies and ancillary techniques, such as immunocytochemistry, are integrated where appropriate.

PGCY122 – Pathology 2

This is the second of two courses in pathology. This course complements the learning acquired in the Non-Gynecologic Cytology and the Microanatomy courses.

This course will provide Diagnostic Cytology students with a general understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of common disease processes of most major organ systems in a systems-based approach. Examples include but are not limited to: infection, cysts, non-neoplastic and neoplastic conditions. The course material is integrated on a weekly basis with Microanatomy and Histotechnique II and Non-gynecological Cytology.

Semester 3 – Summer

CLCY132 – Clinical Education 1

This clinical phase of the Diagnostic Cytology program consists of one week of Michener-wide Working with Seniors, one week of Michener-wide Quality Improvement, and ten weeks’ of laboratory activities. Quality Improvement and Working with Seniors will be delivered online. Students will attend The Michener Institute for a simulated clinical experience for weeks 2-11. This simulated clinical experience will provide the student with an opportunity to further develop detector and interpretive skill at the microscope. The student will also gain hands-on experience in receiving, processing and staining patient samples, with both Cytologic and Histologic techniques. Molecular testing will be practiced, and well as interaction with other healthcare professionals. Laboratory quality management procedures will be introduced along with appropriate documentation of processes. Professional behaviours and ethics explored in BAIP125 are reinforced throughout the simulated clinical semester and will be evaluated to assess the students’ readiness for clinical education.

Semester 4 – Fall

CLCY242 – Clinical Education 2

This clinical phase of the Diagnostic Cytology program consists of twenty-four weeks’ detailed microscopic study of Pap tests, routine Non-gyne specimens, Fine Needle Aspirates, Histotechniques and some Molecular techniques in one or more clinical laboratories.  Students are expected to work independently while screening patient cases.  At this stage in the program, students are expected to have good working knowledge of cytologic findings for normal, infectious processes, non-neoplastic and neoplastic conditions.  Specimen handling /reception, preparatory techniques –both cytologic and histologic, and daily laboratory function should also be familiar.  Quality management processes will continue from previous courses.  Legal and professional requirements expected of the Cytotechnologist also continue from previous courses. Students are asked to maintain a reflective journal to track incidents that resonate with the student for any of a variety of reasons.  Successful completion of this course is required for a Graduate Diploma in Diagnostic Cytology.