Whether it’s learning how to edit genes, culture cells, or handle lab equipment, the next generation of lab technicians must be properly trained in conducting cell-based operations, so that they can enter the workforce and contribute to your organization with confidence.
Training is essential for laboratories conducting cell culture because it promotes safety, quality, and compliance while enabling researchers to develop the expertise needed for successful experiments. It also contributes to the overall rigor and credibility of research conducted in cell culture laboratories.
While many technicians graduate from two-year or four-year institutions, a large number of employees report receiving much of their training on the job. And with a high level of employee turnover, it is the responsibility of the organization to implement a sustainable onboarding & training program for employees.
The Benefits of Training
Ensuring Safety: Cell culture always involves the handling of biological materials, including cell lines and potentially hazardous chemicals. Proper training helps researchers understand safety protocols, minimize risks, and prevent accidents or contamination that could harm both laboratory personnel and the environment.
Maintaining Data Integrity: Training ensures that all members of the lab understand and adhere to standardized protocols for cell culture. This consistency is critical for maintaining data integrity, as variations in technique can introduce errors or bias into research results.
Enhancing Reproducibility: Consistent training and adherence to established protocols improve the reproducibility of experiments. When different researchers within a lab or across laboratories follow the same procedures, it becomes easier to replicate experiments and validate research findings.
Quality Control: Training programs can include guidelines and procedures for quality control in cell culture. This helps laboratories maintain the quality and consistency of cell lines and culture conditions, which is essential for reliable and credible research outcomes.
Compliance with Regulations: Many laboratories that conduct cell culture are subject to regulatory requirements, especially when working with human cells, animal models, or genetically modified organisms. Proper training ensures that researchers are aware of and comply with these regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.
Preventing Contamination: Cell cultures are highly susceptible to contamination, which can lead to unreliable results. Training teaches researchers how to minimize the risk of contamination through proper aseptic techniques, careful handling, and regular monitoring.
Optimizing Resources: Efficient training programs can help laboratories optimize resource utilization by reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes, such as accidental cell culture loss due to contamination or improper handling. This can result in cost savings and more efficient use of research funds.
Skill Development: Training programs help researchers develop the specific skills and expertise required for successful cell culture. These skills include the ability to work with various cell lines, adapt to different culture conditions, troubleshoot issues, and make informed decisions during experiments.
Adapting to New Technologies: Cell culture techniques and technologies evolve over time. Ongoing training ensures that researchers stay up to date with the latest advancements in the field and can effectively adopt new tools and methodologies.
Effective Communication: Training fosters effective communication within the lab. Researchers who receive consistent training are more likely to understand and use common terminology, follow established protocols, and share their experiences and insights with colleagues.
Professional Development: Training in cell culture can contribute to the professional development of researchers. It equips them with valuable skills and knowledge that can enhance their career prospects, whether in academia, industry, or healthcare.
Tips to Improve Training
Here’s some ways to optimize your employee onboarding and upskilling process:
- Meet your employees where they are – For the younger generation of employees who grew up with smartphones and technology, employers who meet their demands for high-performing software tools can expect a more satisfied and productive workforce.
- Provide hands-on learning with oversight – Beyond some training in technical schools or universities, most new lab technicians learn their craft on the job; therefore, new employees must learn from experienced technicians or some other means. With digital protocols and assays, employees can simply follow prompts on the screen with validation rules built in to guide them through the process.
- Create a lineage of learning – With relatively high turnover rates, laboratories must institute ways to retain and share institutional knowledge quickly. By allowing new employees to see what occurred before them, they can quickly learn the in’s and out’s of their duties through past experiences and communications.