I was recently watching a short video interview with a group of professional woodworkers who are also contributing editors for a wood working magazine. One of the topics that came up was "What makes one a Pro?". There was unanimous agreement on two things. The first was knowing how to recognise and, more importantly, correct mistakes. The other was accepting that you will spend a lot of time fussing over joints and details knowing you will never be paid for the effort - you do it for pride in your work.
I think these points are very valid and as applicable to us as they are to those professional woodworkers. We need to be constantly on the lookout for errors in our measurement and data collection. This is the difference between quality work and pushbutton work. It troubles me when I am asked for help from a lab that has staff who have no idea what they doing, have never been provided with training and whose data are simply presented warts and all, valid or invalid. Not only do we need to be able to recognise errors, we need to know how to deal with them. A perennial is the effective VA that is greater than TLC. Is it the VA or the TLC that is wrong? Was the DLCO manoeuvre valid? Are the data behind the TLC calculation OK? Do you know how the TLC is derived? Failing resolution, how do you report the results? There are lots of questions to be resolved in sorting out this apparently simple issue.
Should we fuss over the appearance and content of our reports? I believe we should as the way the output from our endeavours is presented, reflects on our professionalism. Are all your reports reviewed by a scientist before being released to the doctors for interpretation? Is the layout of your report clear and easy to understand? Do you present the graphical components in a way that the information contained in the report is enhanced? With automated report generation, do you understand how the software is gathering the data together? Do you track where reports are at in the interpretation / distribution process?
The responsibility that goes with being a professional lies with every member of the team not just the mug at the top of the tree. Any team is only as good as its weakest link. Call it a commitment to continuous quality improvement or simply being proud of what you do, your attention to detail is critical to how your team's work is perceived by those around us.
Would I rather be at home making wood shavings and fussing over a mortise, or here finding answers to the above questions? Tough call!
'til next time