I know you have had a couple of responses to your question already, but
I thought I should throw my thoughts in too.
Personally, I would hate to sit and just cut for eight houirs straight.
Unless you have an ergonomically-designed workstation and chair, you are
asking for all kinds of stress and strains to various body parts ... to
say nothing about wrist and shoulder problems. Take breaks, divide your
cutting into shorther sessions, or get someone else to help out.
The actual number of sections cut at the end of an eight hour shift is
one of those potentially meaningless statistics ... the number is
dependent on so many variables:
- Are you talking about one sections per block (ie 250 sections from 250
different blocks) or 250 sections from the same block?
- Are the blocks already trimmed?
- What kind of tissue is being sectioned?
- How thick are the sections?
- How many sections per slide?
- Are your slides prelabelled?
- Do you pick up your own sections?
If the blocks are pre-trimmed, pre-chilled, and you are cutting one
section per slide, I would consider an average of 2 blocks/slides per
minute to be reasonable. Any additional work (trimming, loading up the
cold tray, etc) will slow you down. If you are cutting multiple sections
from blocks, a higher number of slides should be expected as the amount
of trimming, securing blocks in the chuck, etc, is reduced.
However, speed is not the critical factor. Quality is. High quality
sections are essential. Poor quality sections will prevent the
microscopist from seeing relevant detail. I taught histology for over 20
years, and one of my standard sermons about section cutting (and many
other things) was "Get good first ... then get fast !!!"
Don't be too concerned about your speed, ask your "boss" if he is happy
with the quality of your sections. This is the critical question. Don't
make a deliberate effort to try to cut fast, speed will come ... with
practice. Rushing will only reduce quality and put your fingers at risk.
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