Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Training new lab members

Having worked in labs for sometime, I came to realize that a lot of people read a resume, hire a new lab personnel, and assume the new member can perform without almost any training because the new member's resume indicated he/she had done it before.
A lot of time hiring decision is done solely by a primary investigator (PI) and for some reason they tend to think

"This person has a MS degree and some experience in research so he/she should know how to do XYZ protocol"


" This person has done this protocol/experiment before, he/she should be able to do what we do here".

What these PIs tend to forget is that every lab do the same experiment differently and every person has his/her way of doing things. It is wrong to assume the new lab member will do exactly the way the PI wanted without any proper training.

This is also true for experienced lab members. I have seen so many times, existing lab members assume a new lab member can complete an experiment the second day he/she joined the lab just because the new member has a MS degree.

So what is a good way to train a new lab member?

1)Explain and demonstrate the procedure.
Just let the new members to watch and point out what is important as well as to remind them to take notes.

2)Let the new member to carry out the procedure once with your supervision.
This will give the new members a chance to feel what it feels like to actually do it.

3)Let the new member to carry out the procedure without your supervision, BUT be sure to stay near by in case they have questions.
This will make the new members to really think about what they are doing. Be prepare to answer a lot of questions. If there is no questions, be sure to peak and check on what is going on because most of the time they are doing something wrong.
Additionally, This step will also give the new member an impression that you trust him/her and think he/she is capable enough to carry out the procedure by themselves.

Note: If you feel the new member is not ready for step 3), make sure to repeat step 2) several times. This happens commonly when training volunteers because they may not have science background.

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