Speakers' Bureau Directory: Frank

Karen Frank
Degree: M.D., Ph.D.
Employer: NIH
Bethesda, Maryland  20892


Primary Employer: Agricultural/Veterinary; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Chief of Microbiology
Years in position: 6 years as a Director of Micro Lab
Presentation Type: N/A
Video Call Type:N/A
Day to day responsibilities:
I manage the operation of a hospital microbiology laboratory, overseeing a staff of 30. Our hospital is a research hospital, only serving patients enrolled in clinical trials. My routine includes daily discussion of current patients with infectious diseases physicians. Providing expert consultations is a part of the daily responsibilities. Teaching of infectious diseases fellows is ongoing as both lectures and hands-on demos. We have medical microbiology fellows in training, in addition to infectious diseases fellows. The laboratory must maintain up-to-date testing and instrumentation, and ongoing quality control and validations are usually always in progress. Clinical and research conferences, and journal clubs are a frequent part of the weekly routine. Scheduling, competency evaluations, hiring/firing, and personnel issues are also part of the routine oversight of the director, with the amount of direct input depending on the situation and the management staff under the director. The most critical day-to-day task is the review and reporting of patient results in a timely manner. The director tends to review the testing/results that are not routine, but instead give uncommon findings, or that require additional testing or discussions with ordering physicians.

What do you love about your job?
The excitement of a potential new research discovery.
Participating in the care of patients and making a difference in their treatment.
Interacting with friendly, intelligent colleagues who have a passion for their work.
Learning new things on many days.
Taking on the challenge of designing new experiments.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
Degree required is either an MD or a PhD. Certification is from either American Board of Pathology, an Infectious Diseases medical board, or the American Board of Medical Microbiology.

I have an MD, boarded in Clinical Pathology, and I am an ABMM diplomate, I have a state medical license.

Skills and experience include the training obtained during residency, graduate school, postdoctoral training, and experience as a junior faculty member before moving on to a more senior faculty position. The experience is in multiple areas including microbiology knowledge, management skills, familiarity with regulatory requirements, teaching skills, and experience with personnel issues.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
Choose to do something about which you are passionate. Hard work and long hours are required for success in many fields, but if your hobby and your job are the same thing, then it is not a sacrifice to work hard.

Get a good mentor or two. A lot of information is transmitted by word-of-mouth from an experienced person to the junior person. Often, there will be multiple opinions about the issue at hand, so obtain more than one opinion for advice on important matters.

Talk to colleagues at the same stage as you are, or 1-2 years in front of you. They have advice that may be lost when speaking to more senior people.

Do your homework in advance on the steps required to get through the training track of your choosing.