A Bad Microbiologist

When there is good, there is also bad. As human we could not run away from making a mistake. Mistake is the norm of the nature. Even in the nature, there will be some mistake happening everyday but that mistake make it perfect. The imperfection make everything beautiful.

A bad person can only be a bad person if he or she kept making the same mistake over and over again. With this definition in our mind, a bad microbiologist would be equals to those that repetitively make the same mistake throught out their career.

One mistake that many microbiologist neglect is the mistake of not seeing a patient and relies only on a piece of paper - Pathology Request Form. For many microbiologist, this request form is the utmost important thing of all.

I do agree that the form was very important. It contain a crucial information that would help in making a diagnosis, hence delivering the right treatment to patient. We who are working in the lab would make a big fuss if a clinician decided to sent a request form without proper information on patient presenting complain, examination finding, and indication for the test. The completeness of the pathology request form reflect the quality of the result that will be provided by the lab. As saying goes - rubbish in, rubbish out. A bad pathology request form, a bad result will then followed.

Nevertheless, one of the most important thing to do as a microbiologist is to see the patient themselves when in doubt. I have seen quite a lot microbiologist or microbiology student, colleagues of mine, some service microbiology medical officer; go to see patient themselves. We are actually trained to do that. When we found something peculiar or something that was not right for example: a patient with a rare kind of bacteria, or a patient who get opportunistic kind of organism but that patient was not immunosuppressed, or a patient where clinically does not have infection but some bacteria grew in their blood culture, we will go up and find that patient, and clerk them ourselves. It is easier when compare to listening to housemen mumbling or MO speed talking like the day will end in 30 seconds.

If you work in the hospital, and you never see a microbiologist in the ward, then you know you have a bad microbiologist around. (Unless your hospital do not have a microbiologist).

I am saying all of this not to say a microbiologist that never went to the ward is all bad. In fact, they maybe better than the one who frequently wandering around the ward. I am saying this because in my opinion, and for other junior doctors who feel like doing microbiology, microbiology is not entirely microscopy and culture. We are not farmer or cultivators. We are medical doctors. And what we did everyday is for patient. What we care is not about that E.coli which did not want to grow on MacConkey agar, but what we care is - patient.

So for every person who want to do microbiology, this career does not equals to sitting on a chair and look at the microscope. Most of the time in our daily work routine is on the phone discussing about patient clinical presentation or in the ward checking up on patient. This is what a microbiologist should do.

As a conclusion, a clinical microbiologist is still a medical doctor in heart. So if we were all still calling ourselves doctor... we should not based everything on a piece of paper. Talk to patient, listen to their story, from there, finding the cause of the infection is way easier compared to looking at a microorganisms, who will never talk back you.....


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