John Gentile wrote:
> The true microbiologists are a rare breed indeed! I remember having a
> full compliment of sera for both Salmonella and Shigella, but as Judy
> says, it got too expensive and we relegated typing to the state.
>> Technology cannot truly replace an experienced microbiologist, and the
> techs today look more to technology to give them answers. So to answer
> Tri, you can't take shortcuts and rely too much on technology.
Not to be completely Luddite, but there is a fine line between doing
what the kit says and knowing what the kit results (and everything else
about the kit) mean. Unfortunately, way too many people these days know
only how to use the kit, according to directions in most cases, with
absolutely no understanding of what the kit actually does or why/how it
does it. This doesn't apply just to the clinical or technical lab but
to virtually all of microbiology/molecular biology. It is sort of like
teaching to the test (which is another pet peeve of mine); it really
doesn't make any difference whether or not the student/employee has any
knowledge of the background of the kit, as long as they can shove sample
in one end and get data out the other.
In my personal case, I well remember learning electron microscopy on an
Hitachi HU-11A, where the electron gun and lenses had to be aligned by
hand and focusing was highly dependent on direct observation of
diffraction fringes. Knowing how to do all that was probably an issue
in my getting the job at Idaho State, where they had just purchased an
Hitachi HU-11B and had no one who knew how to run it. Later, the HU-11B
was replaced with a Zeiss EM9, which does pretty much everything
automatically, and we rapidly began to turn out students who could do
the sample preparation and get pictures that gave good data with
essentially no knowledge of how the machine operated (no matter how much
you preach about operational functions, if they don't have to actually
do the operations, the students dump that information pretty quickly).
Ah, we are all going to Hell in a handbasket!!
Larry D. Farrell, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Microbiology
Idaho State University