Today laboratories across the world are fast adopting advanced instrumental analysis techniques as they offer advantages of speed, time saving and freedom from personal errors. The benefits offered by modern analytical instrumental methods over non-instrumental methods have already been discussed earlier.
A new entrant may or may not have past exposure to such techniques and can harbour mixed feelings such as over anxiety to learn, fear of making mistakes and more important apprehensions on new organization and senior staff.
It is important to follow a systematic and planned approach to induct the new entrants to advanced analytical techniques. In this regard a few suggestions are being offered which are based on my interaction with analytical scientists over last so many years.
Instil a Sense of Belonging
It is very important that the new entrant should not feel out of place and adapt to the new organization in the least possible time. The new entrant should be able to see the new organization as his future playground which will provide ample opportunities to learn and make contribution of his or her ideas. The senior staff should be specifically instructed to exchange pleasantries and make the new entrant feel welcome.
Introduction to the Organization
The new entrant should be inducted into the organization in a structured manner before being assigned to any particular laboratory section. It is essential to share, objectives, quality policy and the organizational details at this stage. An exposure to the laboratory infrastructure and introduction with other staff is helpful in developing familiarity and provides a moral boost
It is a good approach to start with a planned introduction to the analytical technique in a phased manner.
Scope and Applications
Never make the mistake of introducing the new entrant to the technique by presenting a list of do’s on switching on the power to the system. This will make him or her lose interest right from day one. Instead start with the scope, applications and limitations of the technique. This approach will raise the interest level and the entrant would want to know still more on system capabilities.
Introduce System Components
Next introduce the system components. Explain the role of each component and how it contributes to the overall performance of the system in terms of reliability of data generated.
It is important to cover safety aspects that need to be observed during operation. The new entrant should be explained precautionary measures related to electrical, mechanical, radiation and hot surface contact hazards as well as safe handling of special materials and chemicals
Now is the right time to go into operational details. Remember to explain importance of control of environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, air conditioning and need to prevent cross- contamination of samples. Explain the operation systematically and also demonstrate software capabilities. It is equally important to familiarize entrant with the correct practices of common laboratory operations such as weighing and volumetric dilutions. The quality of results is seriously affected due to errors in such routine laboratory practices. Further, emphasis should be placed on maintenance of proper laboratory documentation records.
Preventive Maintenance and Troubleshooting
The new entrant should not be burdened with excessive details on preventive maintenance and shooting right at the start. Provide only some useful critical tips at this stage. Over a period of time of exposure to the technique the operator will pick up preventive maintenance and troubleshooting tips through personal experience.
It can be safely said that a new entrant should not be rushed through the operational details of a sophisticated analytical instrument in a matter of a few hours or even a couple of days. The new entrant should be provided an opportunity to appreciate and learn the new technique comfortable pace but under expert guidance from time to time.