Internships in Cytotechnology & Medical Technology
Opportunities and considerations for cytotechnology and medical technology majors
Choosing an Internship
Points to Consider
Many factors go into selecting your preferred internship hospital, including geography, cost, admission criteria, and reputation. Although your professors and advisor can be much help in this process, the decision is ultimately yours to make. To help you in making such a decision, here are some aspects to consider.
Professional & Accrediting Agencies
Clinical Internship Sites
Considerations for Accepting an Internship
- Dear Medical Technology/Cytotechnology Student
If you have chosen to major in one of these two degree programs, you have chosen to become a professional clinical laboratory worker at a time when these skills are in very high demand and salaries have been increasing steadily (mean salary ~ $68,000). Congratulations and welcome.
The medical technology and cytotechnology programs are small compared to biology or nursing, but enjoy a tremendously successful future, as hiring of graduates is ~100%. There are currently between 20–30 students in these two majors (combined), with an average of 5–10 students seeking clinical placement every year (in MT). As placement into clinical internships is competitive, not every student will be placed into the internship of their choice. Nonetheless, Plattsburgh students do extremely well in their clinical year, and your future success is due in large part to the successful coursework you will be completing here in the course of your studies.
One area to be aware of is the availability of internship slots, particularly in cytotechnology. Several clinical sites have closed or restricted their programs in recent years, leaving one affiliate in cytotechnology (Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa.) which will discontinue its affiliation with us in 2024 as it is transitioning to a requirement for a master’s degree. As a result, the major in cytotechnology will be discontinued in 2024, and only students who can complete their degree requirements prior to the start of the clinical can now declare cytotechnology as their major (upon consultation with the program advisor). In addition, most existing clinical sites in medical technology have seen a significant increase in applications from other schools, and therefore competition for internships has been greater than in the past.
How does this impact you?
First and foremost, please understand that the clinical internships will likely go to students who are intent on working in the major after graduation. Students who wish to immediately go on to graduate or professional schools should elect to do this through an alternate major, such as biology (B.S.) or biochemistry. Medical technology and cytotechnology are not intended to be pre-med majors!
Secondly, students in these two majors should work hard to maintain a good GPA. In the past, with internship positions still available, even marginal students have found internships. In the coming years, however, this will become harder. To be successful, students should have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and a GPA of 3.5 or higher would be best. This is especially true for major courses and lab courses.
Thirdly, the clinical internship programs look for students who are highly motivated and interested in their field. Students will be interviewed by prospective clinical staff, and those who come across as only “wanting a good job,” “good pay,” or “didn’t know what else to do with their life” will likely not get beyond the interview stage. Clinical sites are looking for people who have a good chance of succeeding, have a positive attitude, work well with others, and are enthusiastic.
In other words — be prepared! Your preparation starts in your first semester in the program with a willingness to put in a 100% effort, an interest in learning more about the field, and preparing yourself for your internship application by meeting the program representatives (when on our campus) and preparing yourself for your interview.
What if don’t get in?
If you know that MT or CT is what you want to do, and you are determined to get there, there will usually be a way. Here are some avenues to pursue:
- Apply to more than one clinical site
- Be prepared, and willing, to relocate — both for the internship and for a job later on. This is especially true for cytotechnology, where plenty of jobs are available — just maybe not here in this area!
- Do your research: look at alternate clinical sites outside of our current affiliates. The NAACLS and ASCP web sites (links are on my MT and CT web pages) have “Find a Program” pages that allow you to search for accredited programs across the country.
- Communicate — with clinical site program directors, and with me! Let me know how your application process is going, and if you have not heard back from anyone, what your next steps are going to be
- Apply on time — or even a little early! Many programs have “rolling admissions,” where the top candidates get accepted early on, and the remaining slots are left open for a while longer.
- Establish a good work ethic and relationship with professors in your field — and ask those faculty who know your (best) work to write you a letter of recommendation.
- Be flexible — the MT and CT programs do not differ much here on campus. The main difference between MT and CT is Chem 321. If you are a CT major, consider adding CHE 321 anyway, to give you flexibility in what program to apply to.
What else is being done to help the MT and CT majors find placement?
I have intensified my efforts to find clinical placements for our students as the surge in students hit our programs. I continue to maintain contacts with numerous non-affiliated clinical sites in MT. Students who wish to major in CT may wish to consider M.S. degree-level programs into which they can transfer after one or two years of study here, as our major will be discontinued after 2024. A number of clinical program openings have been brought to my attention just through inquiring about these through list servers. There are often late opportunities for an internship as someone drops out. I usually either hear about these or can find out about these if someone lets me know they still need to find a place.
Last but not least, some MT and CT programs are now available at the master’s degree level at some universities. Albany College of Pharmacy offers, for example, a B.S./M.S. in Cytotechnology. If anyone is seriously interested in these opportunities, please contact me.
Dr. J. de Ondarza