i do a lot of teaching at work.
i’m very good at rat & mouse techniques, i have a lot of experience doing them, and i enjoy sharing said info with other people. on top of that, i’m rather opinionated about this being one of the most important functions of my job: if i can show you how to do things **the right way**, less animals get used overall, and the ones that are needed get through it all with less stress. this means that i get calls from researchers pretty routinely who need to learn to do x or y with their animals.
the class i was teaching yesterday was on a couple of rather advanced techniques with rats (bla bla technical stuff)…to someone who had NEVER PICKED UP A RAT BEFORE, ***AND*** WAS SCARED OF RATS. this poor grad student was told that she had to figure out how to acomplish all of the things necessary for “the one final project” before the whole lab group moves to another university in 6 weeks. now, the stuff she needed to know how to do wasn’t exactly rat-work 101. nope, this was more like the 300 or 400 level class as far as the trickiness goes, i.e., you have to know how to pick up a rat the right way before you learn basic techniques, and you need to know the basics before we move up into this sort of thing. i told her that the first thing she needed to do (after we had our training session) was to go to her boss and kick him in the shins for being a jerk.
yes, we all made it through that one ok.
the bit i had to teach today was even more odd. this person had emailed me a couple of days ago, asking if i could help with a tissue harvest procedure. tissue harvests are easy. surgery is hard: you have to use a very careful balance of drugs to keep the patient asleep (that’s why there’s a whole doctor in charge of that, the anesthesiologist, when you go in for some procedure), you have to be very careful what you cut (obviously), and you have to be careful about how you sew it all shut so that things work out ok. but to remove organs from an animal that’s already been euthanized? total walk in the park: no worries about bleeding or damaging important things or dying, you just find what you need and cleanly remove it. the only trick is to know basic anatomy, so you can find what you’re looking for. i hit that ‘reply’ button, and asked what tissues she needed, and did she have the scissors and stuff she’d need to do the dissection? her reply was yes to the instruments, and also included was the protocol for the tissue harvest. as in, very clear, step-by-step instructions on the correct way to harvest the aorta. where it was located, what had to be moved out of the way to get there, how to store it in special solutions to keep it until it could be taken up to the lab. i’m thinking, “yeah, that’s pretty much how you do that.” turns out that she had a similar situation to subject number one…the whole thing was a new technique in their lab, and she was under some pressure from her boss to get it right.
i guess if you want an easy job, don’t go be a grad student.