“Are you doing what you should be doing?”

If you are a microbiology scientist and spend a good chunk of your day setting up samples and aliquoting urines, you should be worried. I am sure you didn’t go and spend 4 years in university in order to do this.

If you are a clinical microbiologist and spend a good chunk of your day signing out/authorising routine urine and wound swab results, you should be worried. You didn’t achieve multiple degrees and other qualifications to do this day in day out…

If you are a microbiology technician, and spending a good chunk of your day unpacking boxes and carrying stuff around the lab, you should be worried. Someone off the street could easily come and do this…

And if you are a microbiology lab manager and find yourself spending a good chunk of your day on the bench, you should be worried. Old habits die hard, and who then is managing the lab?

Of course we all need to do things occasionally that we are over-qualified for, or that is not specifically in our job description. But when such tasks are taking up a large proportion of our jobs, we need to take a close look at ourselves, and what we are actually doing from day to day.

We need to make absolutely sure that we are performing tasks that justifies both our position and our qualifications. If we are not, then we need to do something about it.

If you spend most of your day doing something that is likely to be automated a few years down the track you should be concerned. But if you are doing lots of  things daily that could be getting carried out by someone else less qualified, you should be even more worried.

It is easy to get very comfortable when you fall into one of the categories above “This is easy money, I can do this with my eyes closed, there is no need to change anything.” It’s a dangerous mindset to get into however, because in my experience, such scenarios as described above are never left hanging indefinitely in the long term…

Diagnostic medical laboratories are businesses nowadays, and employers are always on the lookout for ways they can get the same job done for less money.

And they are very good at it…



6 thoughts on ““Are you doing what you should be doing?”

  1. Michael,

    This is one of the best general statements on employee expectations for not only microbiologists but for workers in any industry.


  2. Well you certainly know how to divide a workforce. I am a qualified scientist and personally I do not think it is beneath me to work as part of a team and participate in a roster that requires me to do tasks that I am “overqualified” to do. I also personally think that a good manager will not ask their staff to do any jobs that they themselves are not willing or able to do. So not sure that our opinions are on the same plane this time …. remember Michael, there is no “I” in team and no lab will operate without team work, even in the era of automation.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jo. No it is not beneath me either. I have lost count of how many routine wound swabs and urines I have signed out over the years! However as stated, when such tasks become a large proportion of your day to day work, then that is the time to ask questions…

  3. Totally agree. Automation is already happening in microbiology laboratories in Canada. Work is being centralized in order to save money. I say it coming years ago. I worked for 30 years as a medical laboratory technologist. My body has paid the price because it became near impossible for me to keep up with the pace. Centralization and automation of clinical microbiology labs is inevitable.

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