Clinical training

During the majority of the Cytopathology Fellowship (10 months), trainees have full cytology clinical service duties including a one-month dedicated research time. The remaining two months are spent in molecular pathology where emphasis on fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), testing for urine (UroVysion) and other specimens (esophageal brushing, bronchial washings and biliary tract brushings) is taught.

In addition, fellows learn the use of digital image analysis (DIA) and DNA ploidy studies for prostate and breast cancer. Additional technologies that are integrated into the rotation include CellSearch for circulating tumor cells and Automated Cellular Imaging System (ACIS) digital image analysis for automated quantitation of hormonal receptors (ER and PR) and scoring of human epidermal growth factor receptors 2 (HER2) and MIB-1 antibody.

During training, fellows acquire extensive experience and develop special competence in cytopathology including cytopreparatory techniques and stains, interpretation of gynecologic and nongynecologic cytology specimens, the performance of fine needle aspiration, rapid on-site interpretation of fine needle aspirates, and issues related to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulations and quality control. During this period, fellows achieve high competency in the core educational requirements including patient care, medical knowledge, interpersonal communication skills, professionalism, practice-based learning and system-based practice.

During the first four months, fellows are under supervision of the cytopathology faculty specifically during the sign-out period, which includes the attending pathologist and any resident(s) currently on the cytology services. This is conducted at the cytology multiheaded microscope. Specifically concerning cervicovaginal cytology, it is expected that fellows spend a portion of at least one day a week during the first four months screening these exfoliative specimens in the laboratory as if they are the initial cytotechnologist. This provides an appreciation for, and understanding of, this important screening process.

Trainees are expected to spend a portion of one day each week, for as long as is deemed necessary, in the cytology preparation lab in order to learn different cytopreparatory techniques during this phase of the training.

During the second half of the training year, fellows have more independence. When time permits, they review and interpret preliminarily most or all specimens dispersed from the laboratory to the pathologist. Subsequent to this, the specimens go to the attending pathologist who then finalizes the diagnosis. Fellows have the option of attending this subsequent sign-out session.

Research training

The wealth of surgical pathology and cytopathology material at Mayo Clinic offers limitless opportunities for research projects. We also collaborate with large, active clinical and research groups in all subspecialty areas. Core science laboratories are located in the same building as the pathology division, providing access to techniques such as microdissection, molecular genetics, cytogenetics and flow cytometry.

Specifically, the fellow is expected to complete at least one research project with submission for publication at the end of the year before exiting the fellowship training.

Didactic training

The integrated didactic core lecture series, attended by all residents and fellows, covers a range of topics in anatomic and clinical pathology. An extensive teaching file contains glass slides demonstrating the entire spectrum of neoplastic and non-neoplastic pathological diseases.


There is a monthly education conference in cytopathology as well as cytotechnologist student lectures where fellows are expected to present material periodically.

Throughout the year, fellows attend formal presentations on laboratory management principles as part of the established teaching conferences that are given by expert staff members, which is a designed curriculum for leadership and management developed by the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic.

Teaching opportunities

Fellows teach pathology residents and trainees rotating on the cytology service.


To ensure that trainees acquire adequate proficiency and develop appropriate technical skills, performance is monitored carefully during the course of the program. Fellows are evaluated by supervising faculty members at the completion of each rotation block, which may range in length from four to eight weeks. Faculty also formatively assess patient care, medical knowledge, professionalism, systems-based practice, practice-based learning and improvement, and interpersonal and communication skills.

The program director meets with fellows quarterly to review their evaluations and discuss professional growth. In addition, allied health staff and residents are asked to evaluate trainee performance periodically.

Fellows are able to view their evaluations electronically. Final written summative evaluations are compiled for each fellow upon completion of the program. Fellows also evaluate the faculty to ensure that their educational needs are being met.

Jan. 28, 2017