Microbiologists work in public health laboratories, hospital laboratories, reference or independent laboratories, and physician office laboratories. Strengthening the diagnostic capacity is the major role of Clinical microbiologists.
Clinical microbiologists advise on the prioritization of specimens, selection of diagnostic tests, choice of antibiotics for susceptibility testing, validation of results, and safeguarding quality. Microbiologists must be aware of what the physician needs and what the laboratory needs.
At an elementary level, the physician needs answers to three basic questions from the microbiology laboratory:
- Is my patient’s illness caused by a microbe?
- If so, what is it?
- What is the antibiotic susceptibility profile of that organism so that therapy can be targeted?
To answer the above-mentioned questions, the laboratory needs quality specimen: a specimen that is sufficient in quantity and properly selected, collected, and transported. To ensure this, microbiologists must communicate with physicians, nurses, and laboratory staff regarding appropriate sample selection, collection, and transport methods. Preanalytical specimen management in a microbiology laboratory is critical to accuracy.
The roles of medical microbiologists differ according to the workstations. Medical microbiologists working in reference laboratories might be devoted to carrying out research in a particular gene. In contrast, microbiologists working in a general diagnostic laboratory are confined to routine laboratory works.
But in general, a microbiologist will perform one or more of the following functions:
- Direct detection of pathogenic organisms by microscopy (this might involve using staining techniques tailored for suspected pathogenic organisms).
- Cultivation (growth), identification, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of microorganisms
- Direct detection of specific products of infecting organisms using chemical, immunologic, or molecular techniques.
- Detection of antibodies the patient produces in response to an infecting organism (serodiagnosis).
- Working with specialist computer software to undertake studies and research;
- Managing and overseeing laboratory work.
- Work as a key figure in the control of hospital infection and the antimicrobial policy.
- Academic jobs: microbiologists make a substantial contribution to teaching activity, i.e., teaching medical laboratory, medical science, or basic science students, preparing the assessment, and providing feedback.