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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education, Microscopy and imaging

Keeping Up

Yesterday, curious about the latest news in the science of the small, I visited a microscopy and microscience conference. It’s an event I have attended several times in the past but, each time I go, there’s more to learn. Electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, STORM, PALM, STIM, STED… Some terms I recognize from a graduate school career spent in chromatin biology and others from recent Nobel prize awardees but, increasingly, I’m encountering terms that are alien to me. DSTORM? MSPIM?

Diagnostic technology is exploding at an incredible rate.

Diagnostic technology is exploding at an incredible rate. It’s obvious in microscopy, where we have increasingly sensitive detection and visualization of increasingly tiny things, but it’s no less true in other areas. Computational pathology springs immediately to mind; as the accuracy of AI-based approaches grows, diverse laboratories are opting to include such technology in routine workflows.

The challenge with such a rapidly expanding field is keeping up. Even recently trained professionals may find that their knowledge quickly becomes out of date, if not maintained – and there’s so much to learn that hours spent exploring new developments can quickly outnumber those spent on other tasks. So how do you know when enough is enough? How much learning will keep you abreast of what you need to know without sacrificing the other aspects of being a good healthcare professional?

There’s no one right answer to that question, of course; some disciplines see more rapid advancement than others, and some technologies require more training than others. And every learner is different – some might feel comfortable simply reading through an instruction manual, but others may want hands-on training or expert guidance. Regardless, it’s hard to deny that pathologists and lab medicine professionals are being asked more and more – and there’s less and less time to stay up to date on new developments.

What approach do you favor? What tips and tricks do you have for learning what you need without overlooking other work? Let us know how you do it ([email protected]) and perhaps others can learn from your experience!

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About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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