Need help from Microbiologist (reply from Industrial side)

Dilworth bactitech at hortonsbay.com
Wed Aug 29 14:30:28 EST 2001

It's interesting that you and Richard, the other poster in this thread,
describe micro as a solitary undertaking.  Even though there are a bunch
of us working on each shift, micro is indeed a solitary enterprise. 
When techs from the other side of the lab come into micro they are kind
of amazed how quiet it can be some times (I guess it's the noise of
people thinking....:-)).  We don't have all the equipment that the rest
of the lab does - just mostly refrigerators, incubators and freezers. 
Our only "instruments" are the Vitek for our susceptibilities and the
LCX for our DNA probes for Chlamydia and GC (which are off in a separate

I worked second shift in a smaller hospital's micro lab for almost nine
years - all by myself.  There were other people in the other part of the
lab doing their thing, but I held down the micro fort five nights a
week.  It was probably my favorite job.  I really enjoyed being by
myself, making the decisions on the specimens, setting my own
priorities, and working at my own pace.  I really couldn't WAIT for
everyone to leave, as we had an hour or so overlap at the beginning of
the shift.  The only reason I'm not still there is that the hospital
unfortunately was closed permanently, a casualty of reimbursement
reductions from Medicare/Medicaid and lack of privately insured
alternate patients.

It's interesting that you're in micro, but don't deal with plates per
se.  It does sound as if you miss that aspect of it.  I guess what I've
noticed is that many of my coworkers don't really get "into" micro -
plate reading is just a job and when they leave they don't really keep
up with stuff.  I've started a micro continuing ed emailing of sorts -
it's mostly just links to articles on the web, but it forces me to read
them first, so I'm keeping up with things pretty well.  I get a number
of newsletters on the medical micro front, then review these for
interesting tidbits to put into my mailings.

ASM has always been for the Ph.D's that run our micro labs.  My old boss
and I'm sure my new boss both are members and go to the yearly meetings
(they know each other well and have co-authored papers).  I've never
known a hospital to send any "bench technologists" to this event.  There
is a "local" group, the South Central Association for Clinical
Microbiology, which meets once a year, and is a group of medical micro
people from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and two other states - possibly
Michigan and Illinois but I'm not sure.  The hospitals used to send us
to SCACM meetings but the funding for this stuff has just dried up.  We
have to pursue continuing ed any way we can.  The internet is obviously
a great place to go for information, and my goal is to introduce my
coworkers to the many great sites available for information about our
profession.  Management doesn't know about a lot of these sites either,
so I include them in my mailings.

Your comment about the polarization of different types of micro is
interesting.  If we get food specimens they are immediately relayed to a
state laboratory.  Our accreditation (CAP [College of American
Pathologists] and JCAHO [Joint Commission of the American Hospital
Association]) doesn't allow for work outside of our scope. We just don't
have the procedures in place to deal with specimens of this nature.  The
only environmental stuff we do are autoclave checks for our Central
Services departments, and some monitoring of the local Tissue Bank. 
Anything else is not dealt with in our lab.  There is a medical device
company located in our city, and I believe they deal with much different
microbiological problems than we do.

Yes, this is an interesting thread, and hopefully other people will post
to it.

Judy Dilworth, M.T. (ASCP)

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