Monday, February 20, 2012

Final rotation

This was the Chemistry rotation, and it left me so burned out that I haven’t even felt like talking about it until now.

Imagine you’re working in a fast-food restaurant. You have to cook the burgers, pour the drinks, operate the cash register and handle the drive-through traffic. At lunch hour. Oh, and if you get any of the orders wrong, someone could die. It was a bit like that.

Chemistry encompasses more tests than any other department, which meant a huge number of samples to process. Like Hematology and Transfusion, Chemistry operates around-the-clock, with huge analyzers that take dozens of specimens at a time and which are constantly working.

Yet it’s not as simple as feeding in the specimens at one end and collecting the results at the other. The analyzers need regular (and sometimes constant) maintenance, cleaning, calibration and topping-up. If one breaks down, it can cause an serious backlog. And as well as running these, the technologists need to do a number of other tests which are few enough in number that they can be handled manually—analyzing sweat samples for cystic fibrosis, running the flame spectrophotometer, pregnancy tests, fecal occult blood tests and so on.

Most of the time, though, I felt as though I was just trying to keep my head above water—or above the flood of specimens. There was no time for the technologists to ask me questions about the theory behind what we were doing. Chemistry can be interesting, and I never found it particularly difficult in college, but towards the end I was so exhausted I was just counting off the days.

And after it was over, there was the qualifying exam to study for. That was on the 16th, and even if I had wanted to get a full night’s rest before it, I was too tense. I probably had reason to be, since the exam was tough, and I honestly have no idea how it will turn out. CSMLS will let us know in four to six weeks, so that’s another month of worrying I have ahead.

Though at least now I can start looking for jobs. For the past nine months I’d been working part-time in a bookstore owned by a psychic, but I quit that when it got to be too frustrating – here’s a link to the story. Things have got to get better from here.


Maria Zannini said...

Sounds grueling. I hope you get a chance to recharge. Sounds like you need a little me-time.

PS I'm sure you did great on your exam. :)

Marian Perera said...

Thanks, Maria! I'm resting now, and trying to reconnect with all my friends in the blogosphere. Good to hear from you. :)

gypsyscarlett said...

I'm so glad that you are able to rest a bit now. Your hard work ethic is so inspiring. My hat is off to you!

As they say in Germany for good luck, "Toi, toi, toi." Though Idoubt you needt. :)

gypsyscarlett said...

Ack. Sorry for the typos!

Marian Perera said...

Thanks, Tasha. Though I have a to-do list for my resting period as well. Mostly things I neglected, like cleaning the kitchen and sending out manuscripts, and yes, the one has to be done before the other can be tackled.

Loren said...

Thanx for your account of your Chemistry rotation and your account of that psychic bookstore owner.

So in that lab, it does not seem like there were any spare analyzer machines in case one breaks down. That doesn't seem like good management. Sort of like driving without a spare tire. Though in fairness, that lab seemed like a model of good management compared to that psychic bookstore.

As to that bookstore, I like your skepticism, even if you could not express it there. It's curious that channeled people always seem fluent in the channeler's language, accent and all, and not in their original language. Channeled physicists always seem to forget the mathematics they had used in their careers. Etc.

Marian Perera said...

There was a spare (read: old) Vitros which the technologists used when the new Vitros was undergoing maintenance or running quality control, but there was no spare Immulite. That made my third week in Chemistry very difficult, because when the Immulite broke down I lost time I could have spent learning how to operate it.

The reason they don't have spare analyzers (other than the space issue, because the analyzers are big) is that an analyzer can't just be kept in storage until it's needed. It has to be calibrated and maintained regularly, with fluids being topped up and reagents replaced before they expire. QC and comparison samples have to be run, usually daily. Otherwise you don't know if you can trust the results you get on it.

So basically, it's like more like having a spare car than a spare tire.

Glad you like the psychic story. It was such a relief to get out of there.