“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….




2 thoughts on ““A decade as a microbiologist in New Zealand”

  1. Hi Michael,

    I’m a UK BMS in Gateshead. I’m interested in potentially setting up a lab exchange scheme and you sound like the kind of guy to speak to. We have recently taken on the full Kiestra TLA and it would be great to swap ideas. My email is jamiekeegans@yahoo.co.uk

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