What is a Medical Microbiologist?


So I’m a medical doctor and I work as a consultant medical microbiologist. That means that my role is to diagnose, treat and prevent infection caused by microorganisms, those of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.” It’s got lots of positive cultures. So they’ve repeated that, they repeated that after one dose of naproxen. Microbiology is incredibly important. We’re surrounded, we live in a microbial world. We’re covered in bugs, we have microbes inside us and the environment’s full of microorganisms, and infection affects every single one of us.” This is one of the best bits of the job: dealing with a patient, someone who’s sick, wondering what might be wrong, starting best guess antibiotics and then coming in the next day and having a look and seeing what’s growing. No two days are ever the same because actually you never quite know what’s going to grow. But a typical day will be 9-5:30. We start the day with a handover from colleagues who were on over the weekend or overnight and then we’ll usually have a clinical or educational meeting in the morning. Then the rest of the morning is spent undertaking laboratory liaison where we find out what’s growing and whether we need to do any further work to identify bacteria of what’s growing in the lab. We’ll then see go and patients at the bedside and do the intensive care ward round as well as phone out or authorise those important results to the teams who are waiting for those results. In the afternoon we may have a team meeting, for example, infection control, or I would, for example, will have the anti-microbial stewardship team meeting. We also take the time to do teaching sessions so that might be lectures to undergraduate medical students. So yes, actually, microbiologists have a lot of patient contact. We see all the patients on the intensive care unit everyday so we conduct a ward round daily and we also go and review patients with difficult or complex infections at the bedside. Colleagues also trained in infectious diseases or those or those who deliver outpatient anti-microbial therapy services, they run weekly clinics. So we have regular patient contact and daily intensive care ward rounds. I think when you actually go to the bedside and meet the patients, it really helps put the pieces together. You actually get to understand the impact of infection and see people get better, seeing the effects of your advice, your diagnosis, your therapy, actually making things better for patients. I think it really does. When I’m at work, I’m always really busy, I never notice the time but then I think there is that lovely chance to step away, because you know you’ve done a good job, you’ve had a lot of job satisfaction when you’re there, and you can step away and switch off as a microbiologist. You’re on call, but that’s often from home so it’s very manageable with a family life as well. I find personally that I can really enjoy the time I’m at work but also unwind and switch off, enjoy my family and friends when I’m away from work. I actually work less than full time as do some other colleagues in my department and that’s very achievable and it really works particularly well for microbiology because we don’t have our own inpatients, because we serve all patients, we can work out rotas that work out for people so fitting their other interests to make sure that division of care is very equal. I’ll admit I love the subject. It endlessly interests me and I never get bored with dealing with infections and bugs so it’s a subject I really enjoy. But, I think the best part for me is working with colleagues, that’s both inside the department and across the hospital. I find it really stimulating, I learn such a lot from dealing with my colleagues and speaking to them and working with them, it’s very rewarding. And, of course, in my job I feel I can really fulfil my vocation. I really do think that we’re making a difference and that gives me great job satisfaction as well, so I really do enjoy what I do. There you go, learnt something.

17 thoughts on “What is a Medical Microbiologist?

  1. thank you this video was amazing and extremely helpful as I am deciding which programs to apply for medical residency in Canada
    Now, I will definitely consider medical microbiology 🙂

  2. Hi, I’m just wondering if there are any other routes into becoming a medical microbiologist other than medicine? Can you become one via the biomedical scientist or clinical scientist route? Thank you

  3. hey i completed my mbbs after that took md microbiologist . right now in first year only plz guide how to join you .

  4. I'm a medical officer working in Department of Pathology in one of the general hospital in Malaysia. I do interested to do clinical microbiology. Is there any pathway for me in Malaysia to do training under Royal College of Pathology UK in Malaysia?

  5. I’m interested in this field, what are jobs that are similar to this career? I’m going to a program for medical laboratory technology to get my associate degree but I wasn’t sure if I should get a degree in science and then transfer to a university later on. Please give me an advice or tips to help me.

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