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A Day in the life of a Microbiology Registrar

Medical microbiology is an evolving specialty. Traditionally a laboratory-based specialty, medical microbiologists were rarely seen on the wards. However, as reflected in the structure of the Combined Infection Training, Medical Microbiologists are now increasingly out and about in the hospital, liaising  face-to-face with other clinical teams and reviewing patients.  A great advantage of our specialty is working across multiple specialties and ages, and within multi-disciplinary teams both within the lab and on the wards.

Our mornings usually start with a strong coffee and review of the cultures that became positive overnight. We then call out these cultures and try and get a clinical picture of the patient by asking details and checking what antibiotics they are on. This is particularly important as we need to be able to get the patient on the correct antibiotic as per their culture result. We would also suggest additional tests (e.g. cultures, serology and radiology) to try to discover the source of infection. 

Once the cultures are completed, we get our white coats and head to the laboratory benches for the “bench round”. This is a fantastic opportunity to actually look at the culture plates and look at interesting gram stains as well as filling in the clinical information for the lab staff. It is here where we can ask for additional antibiotic sensitivities on bacteria and also to ask for specific culture requirements if we are suspicious of an unusual bug. 

The afternoons usually consist of MDT meetings. We work very closely with critical care teams as many of these very sick patients are at risk of nosocomial infections. 
There is a huge variety of MDT meetings that we attend such as paediatrics, neurosurgery, renal and obstetrics and gynaecology. This keeps the flavour of our work varied and exciting. We also get to be involved with a variety of specialities which enhances our knowledge and team working. 

Infection control is one of the cornerstones or microbiology and it can be an extremely satisfying aspect of the job. You may be asked to advise on patient isolation and testing as a result of a particular infection or outbreak. Having worked through the 2 peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic, infection control, microbiology and virology have never been more important to protect vulnerable patients and staff. 

Shuchita Soni