Re: Manual or automatic staining

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From:"R.Wadley" <>
Date:Wed, 14 Apr 1999 13:45:49 +1000
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	Dear Todd,

	Teach the manual way, then the students might appreciate what the machine
is doing.  Every lab has their own brand of autostainer, & their own
protocol to run it, so let them know that machines can do an H&E & few
other stains but let them get their hands dirty (figuratively speaking of

	When I did my degree, we did all our staining by hand (I left with nearly
300 slides stained using more than 60 different methods), using the linear
stainer was a special treat. 

	I think many employers forget that they are the next step in the training
cycle.  I do not believe in this current trend to produce post grads who
can instantly do any & everything an employer might require.  I have been
in too many varied & unusual jobs to believe that everything you need to
know can be given to you in the classroom.  Multiskilling in pathology labs
(something else I loathe) serves the purpose of giving the recently ex
student an opportunity to see where their talents lie, but true knowledge
of a field requires specialisation.  I was lucky, I cut & stained my first
section & knew this was my field, when people start telling me multiskill I
usually resign.  Having said that my work experience is: pathology museum
curator, technician in charge of electron microscopy, hospital scientist in
histology, experimental sciemtist in charge of histology & electron
microscopy, research officer performing for cryo-X-ray analysis, & now lab
manager of a facility that runs a flow cytometer, laser scanning cytometer,
& a confocal microsope.  So in my own small way I guess I might be
considered multiskilled.

	Staining machines are the provence of mostly big private & public
pathology labs, but in small labs, country centres, research facilities
manual staining is still the way to go. It can be a trap introducing
students to what technology has to offer, too often when they hit the work
place the find themselves in what they might think is the stone age of
technological advancement, rather than the computer age. This then leads to
dislike of their new career (& some feel really cheated).  I learnt &
trained on the odd piece of very old equipment, it has been an advantage,
you really appreciate how far modern technology has come.  But, how come my
old Spencer 880 (circa 1940's) can cut better sections than some modern
microtomes which are only a few years old.

	Students, treat them mean & keep them keen.
	Rob W.
R. Wadley, B.App.Sc, M.L.S
Laboratory Manager
Cellular Analysis Facility
School of Microbiology & Immunology
UNSW, New South Wales, Australia, 2052
Ph (BH) 	+61 (2) 9385 3517
Ph (AH)	+61 (2) 9555 1239
Fax 	+61 (2) 9385 1591
	(Under development)

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