There are upsides and downsides of every laboratory, and the last laboratory I worked in had many many strong points. However one of the major advantages of my current job compared to my last one is the fact that the microbiology laboratory is inside the hospital. I am now on the same corridor as the ITU and the Infection Control Nurses, and a stone’s throw from the acute receiving ward and most of the other wards.
It is a big plus for me that I am easily able to see patients again, and speak to clinicians face to face. This also helps in building the trust that is required for effective laboratory/clinical relationships.
I think it is also helpful for microbiology scientists/technicians when the patients from whom they are processing clinical samples are on are on the wards surrounding the laboratory, not in a separate building or a separate area of town. Having an in-hospital lab makes it real, focuses the mind, and strengthens the resolve to do your best for the patient.
Although laboratory tests can essentially be done anywhere, my current job is now reinforcing for me the importance of having a laboratory that sits within the hospital, and preferably in the main building. For me this is going to be a pre-requisite for any future job.