[Cytometry] SRL staffing problems - need community feedback

Gene Pizzo genepizzo74 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 25 18:37:20 EST 2014


One of the important discriminators in all FACS facilities is quality
control. You might get an acknowledgement of the ideal #FTE's/instrument
based on the ideal case in which everyone is optimally funded. But suppose
you aren't, then #FTE's/instrument is irrelevant. And to put it mildly a
lot of us are experiencing irrelevancy in that regard right now.
I believe a better way of looking at it is resolving the level of quality
control that makes sense.
I'll use the Rockefeller Institute when I worked there very briefly with
Cris Bare as an example because its easy to be positive about that
experience. They had a remarkably high level of quality control. They had a
dedicated operator for all their sorters, users were not permitted at least
while I was there to operate the machines themselves. This in part dictated
the #FTE's/sorter ratio and it was justified by the high level of quality
control they were and did maintain in part as a consequence of that policy.
Their instruments always worked at peak performance.
At institutions where you have a much lower ratio you are likely to have a
much lower level of quality control but perhaps it can't be helped. The
level of funding may not accommodate a higher ratio of dedicated
operators/instruments and a policy of user operated sorters may prove to be
a necessity. You'll likely pay the price in instrument downtime. You could
end up opting for service contracts instead of FTE's in which case you
would have to weigh the price of both against quality control.

Gene Pizzo

On Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM, Vinko Tosevski <vinko.tosevski at gmail.com>wrote:

> Dear all,
> We're having issues convincing the decision-makers at the University that
> we're understaffed so I wanted to collect some feedback from the community.
> We're a young core facility (established in 2009) but really grew in size
> and complexity recently. Right now we're operating or maintaining following
> instruments:
> 5 Aria III
> 1 Copas
> 2 LSR Fortessa
> 2 Canto II
> We have just received CyTOF 2 and in few weeks also ImageStreamX arrives.
> We're a team of 4 people, but only 2 of us being full time, the other 2
> members being employed only for 20%. I need to add that all these
> instruments are scattered at 4 different locations across the city (each
> satellite location having one sorter and one analyzer, the rest being at
> our central site).
> On top of all this, we're training users on how to operate instruments,
> organizing courses for graduate school, giving regular methodology seminars
> for students and postdocs and so on... Needles to say, sometimes there's no
> time to check our e-mails during the day.
> Am I really so much off when I say we're understaffed? We just managed to
> get one 80% technician position that's gonna be dedicated to the one of the
> satellite sites and were told not to expect any new people allocated in the
> near future (?!?).
> I would love to hear about your situation. How many staff members, how many
> instruments, what kind of stuff you do? I would put together a small report
> that would (hopefully) convince the University heads that we're not really
> asking for impossible, when compared to other sites across the globe. Or,
> maybe I'll learn that others are having even harder time and that my
> expectations are unrealistic.
> I am looking forward to your feedback. It's quite a unique request from my
> side so feel free to simply reply privately.
> Best,
> Vinko
> --
> Vinko Tosevski
> Technology Officer
> Flow Cytometry Facility
> University of Zurich
> Winterthurerstr. 190
> CH-8057 Zürich
> Switzerland
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