Tag Archives: microbiology in New Zealand

” The Juggling Microbiologist”

What a year 2017 has been!

First and foremost, a new addition to the family. I wasn’t expecting that at the start of the year! Even more unexpected was the fact she needed emergency heart surgery at two weeks of age. A stressful time for everyone, and it definitely put work in perspective . As you can see however, she is now thriving.

Baby Isobel

I also managed to travel to a few new countries:- Austria, Hungary and New Caledonia. Each one was interesting in their own way. It is great to have the opportunity to visit new places, and experience different cultures.

And on top of all that, a new job!

Never being one to turn down a challenge, I have recently accepted a part-time job at the national Public Health microbiology laboratory in New Zealand. This means I now have two jobs, one that is focused on diagnostic microbiology, the other on Public Health microbiology (surveillance, typing, etc.).

It is a good mix, but you are right, I am a complete sucker for punishment…!

However, the main upside to having two jobs is variety. I have worked solely as a diagnostic clinical microbiologist for 11 years now. Same place, same job, day after day, week after week, month after month. I was slowly but surely becoming institutionalised. Change was badly needed, and this new post has given me that change. The learning curve will be steep, and the dynamics and politics of my new workplace will need to be learnt over the forthcoming months. I am looking forward to building lots of new working relationships.

Change is good.

The main downside of having two part-time jobs is that they might be part-time on paper, but full-time in reality! I will need to be very careful not to fall into that trap. Over the years I have seen many “martyrs” do full-time jobs on part-time wages. I always promised myself that would never happen to me.

I will need strong resolve to keep that promise.

So now I am juggling two jobs and a family of eight! As a consequence I will need to be utterly ruthless with regards to time management. I am looking forward to the challenge nevertheless.  Thankfully I am still young(ish), and hopefully I will be able to cope.

Is it sustainable in the long term? Who knows?

What I do know is that nothing is forever…

I suspect 2018 will be an interesting and challenging year, and like 2017, will hopefully bring a surprise or two.

This year, I am just going to relax, keep myself mentally and physically healthy, and juggle the very best I can.

Happy New Year!


“A decade as a microbiologist in New Zealand”

"There are worse places to work than the Bay of Plenty, NZ"
“There are worse places to work than the Bay of Plenty, NZ”

It is now 10 years since I started working as a Clinical Microbiologist in New Zealand. When I first arrived here from the UK, young, fresh faced and a little naive, I never dreamed I would still be in the same job 10 years later. For someone as restless as myself, 10 years is a Herculean effort, even if it was intersected by a 6 month sabbatical in Paris…

A lot has changed in my workplace over that decade. Paperless processing, laboratory mergers, Maldi-Tof technology, new laboratory buildings and the introduction of Kiestra TLA have made it an interesting and challenging period.

Outwith work, but within microbiology, I have enjoyed creating this website, and writing the book “The Art of Clinical Microbiology”. I just wish I had a bit more time to better develop and market these personal projects…

Likewise outside of microbiology, life has been equally eventful. Over the last decade, my family has grown from 3 to 7, one of whom needed emergency open heart surgery to successfully  correct a congenital heart condition. Running, travelling and learning French have been my other passions in my spare time. New Zealand is a beautiful country, which I have enjoyed getting to know.

I have a lot to be thankful for…

The 10 years in New Zealand have passed quickly. When you think about it, a decade is a big chunk of your life. I find it difficult to get used to the fact that I am no longer a “young” clinical microbiologist. Most days I reflect on where I am and where I am going.

I have aged somewhat in the last 10 years… I have become more streetwise, my skin has got thicker, and I am definitely more prepared to take risks. However I still love to daydream and create. I still have that rebellious streak in me and I like to do things a little bit differently from everyone else. I am still very much of a loner. Maybe I am becoming a middle-aged existentialist!

The world of Clinical Microbiology in New Zealand is a small one. New opportunities are not abundant. The politics can be difficult, with laboratory services here tendered out to private providers on a contractual basis. Worldwide, the whole practice of microbiology is changing quickly. The ability to direct that change to some extent locally is absolutely key to keeping my notoriously low boredom threshold under check.

I love change. 

Where will I be in 10 years time? Who knows? Hopefully still alive, maybe even still a clinical microbiologist. 20 years in the same job would really be pushing the boundaries of my sanity, but I might hang on for a year or two yet….