Virtual microscopy: an educator's tool for the enhancement of cytotechnology students' locator skills

Diagn Cytopathol. 2008 Jun;36(6):363-8. doi: 10.1002/dc.20821.


Virtual microscopy (VM) is being utilized as an educational tool in many areas of pathology. The aim of this study is to analyze the locator and diagnostic skills of cytotechnology students by using the Aperio T3 ScanScope, and examine VM's viability as an educational tool in cytotechnology. Ten validated cytology slides were digitized and reviewed by three senior cytotechnologist instructors. Each technologist made annotations indicating diagnostic areas on the virtual slide. A subset of the slides was used for locator skill evaluation. Cytotechnology students examined a pristine copy of the virtual slide and made annotations for comparison to those made by experienced instructors. Annotations of the subset were then scored based on the degree of correlation between students and cytotechnologists. A cytopathologist performed a final review of the students' marks; points were then added or subtracted based on this interpretation. Students were graded based on their correlation to senior cytotechnologists. A statistical analysis using modified interrater calculations ranked the students as to locator ability, producing illuminating results. This study shows that VM has promise as a cytotechnology educational tool by allowing the instructor to evaluate students' locator and diagnostic abilities. We have attempted to implement a simple scoring system for evaluation of locator skills where students are compared versus expert cytotechnologists. We anticipate further technological improvements as the products mature.

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Medical Laboratory Science / education*
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Pathology, Clinical / education*
  • Teaching / methods*
  • User-Computer Interface