To help address this, Charles Sturt University (CSU) is to offer the first postgraduate qualification in cytology in Australasia.
Cytology – the study of cells, primarily for the diagnosis of cancer – is mainly associated with reading pap smears to identify the presence of cervical cancer.
From next February, CSU will introduce a Master of Medical Science (Cytology) offered exclusively by distance education and online.
Course coordinator Dr Todd Walker said many cytologists are unable to gain promotion without postgraduate qualifications, but until now no postgraduate cytology program has been offered in Australia.
The three-year Masters course has been developed in collaboration with the Australian Society of Cytology (ASC) in response to a demand from cytologists for professional development.
Dr Walker, a Fellow of the International Academy of Cytology and Member of the ASC, said the University was able to meet the demand for postgraduate study through its expertise in distance education and complementary postgraduate courses.
He said potential applicants would already be working in an accredited cytology laboratory and seeking to advance their career from scientist to senior scientist roles in hospitals and pathology clinics, both in the public and private sectors.
“These scientists now have the opportunity to develop new techniques, compare methods and examine cutting-edge diagnostic research,” Dr Walker said.
Students may obtain credit for previous study and have the option of exiting the course with a Graduate Certificate in Medical Science (Cytology) after two years.