“Know your Limits”

As part of my job as a clinical microbiologist I get phone calls from clinicians looking for microbiological advice. The majority of calls are appropriate and sensible. Sometimes the question is beyond my expertise and I need to go and ask my peers for help. (That’s ok, nobody can know everything about microbiology which is infinitismal in the breadth and depth of things to know…)

Occasionally the microbiology question is so straightforward that I think the caller should really have known the answer to that question. However it is not really these callers that I should be worrying about. It is the ones who don’t call at all that are the real concern. The doctors who you never hear from, for various reasons I imagine. Some of these people will have good microbiological knowledge, but some won’t, and instead of asking for assistance, either guess or just ignore the problem.

These are the people that you really need to keep an eye on…

Likewise in the laboratory setting there will always be a few people who work quietly away without ever asking questions. Generally this is a good thing and most of the time they will know what they are doing but I always worry most about people who never ask any questions at all or ask for a second opinion from time to time. We all need to…


Before I say goodbye to my children going off to school in the morning I don’t say to them “Be good” (They are my children after all so this is unrealistic), or “Work Hard” (again stretching the boundaries). Instead I tell them “Ask loads of questions and make a nuisance of yourself!”)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *