Microbiologist

Alice

What is your role?
“I work in the pathology laboratories in the hospital, analysing different samples, trying to diagnose a patient’s illness. Each day, we have hundreds of samples come up to our labs, urine, body tissue, blood cultures and so on. Each of these needs to be examined and treated slightly differently. Some will come in containers, some on swabs and most are bought up to us by porters.

“For each sample, you will check what test you need to perform – could be incubating it or wiping a swab on agar jelly – and then, after a time, you will see what has developed using either your eye or a microscope, depending on the sample.

“If there is uncertainty there is a machine we can use, or we can send them to the reference lab but it is easier and more efficient if we can identify things ourselves. But either way, we will end up with an understanding of what is wrong with the patient and can upload all results to our computer system.”

Why did you want to do this job?
“I completed a degree in biomedical science at Nottingham Trent University and came to Derby to complete a year’s practical training. There are a few different disciplines you can work in, like biochemistry, histology and haematology. But I felt that biomedical science was more hands-on and suited me a bit more because you could track each patient’s case right through form beginning to end, from the moment you first got the sample, to sending the results through.

“It is really satisfying to be using the skills I have learnt at university in science in a practical way and this job brings everything I learnt together. I really wanted a job where I could use science to help people and this is exactly that.”

What do you like particularly about Derby Teaching Hospitals?
“Derby has a new, brilliantly-equipped hospital which is the ideal environment to carry out scientific work. The staff here are all friendly and very willing to take the time and train me up. We have an excellent rotation system here which means every month we switch to a different bench, working on different sample types, which keeps things interesting.

“They really believe in the human element in science and so there is a lot of hands-on work, which is what I got into it for.”