Speakers' Bureau Directory: Fey

Paul Fey
Degree: Ph.D.
Employer: University of Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, Nebraska  68198-5900


Primary Employer: College/University; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Professor and Medical Director of Clinical Microbiology
Years in position: 16 years as an academic and Associate Medical Director of the laboratory—1 year as Medical Director
Presentation Type: N/A
Video Call Type:N/A
Day to day responsibilities:
I am an active basic science researcher, teacher and a clinical microbiologist. I have 5 PhD students in my laboratory currently and study S. aureus/S. epidermidis biology and pathogenesis. However, I also direct the clinical microbiology laboratory at the University Hospital where I direct clinical testing in bacteriology, virology, mycobacteriology, parasitology, mycology, and serology. I collaborate with infectious disease physicians and the antimicrobial stewardship committee on a variety of subjects, discuss clinical testing and antimicrobial resistance with physicians, and interpret testing for clinicians.

What do you love about your job?
I enjoy the variety of hats that I wear on a daily basis. This includes thinking about staphylococcal metabolism and pathogenesis, teaching a lecture on bacterial genetics or pathogenesis, discussing new clinical tests, teaching clinical microbiology to residents and fellows, or discussing a case with a clinician. I also believe that being a clinical microbiologist affords me great insight into relevant questions related to infectious disease and bacterial pathogenesis to use as basic research questions.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
You can take several routes on your way to being an academic clinical microbiologist. If you receive an MD, typically, physicians specialize in pathology or infectious disease before they embark upon directing a clinical microbiology laboratory. If you are more research oriented individual, you should obtain a PhD in microbiology or a related discipline and certification by the American Board of Medical Microbiology; this typically follows a fellowship in a CPEP post-doctoral fellowship program.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
First, and most importantly, you need to have a passion for biology and be a lifelong learner. Being excited about your work is critical in my view. Second, you need to develop creative and critical thinking skills; these skills can be developed in a variety of ways outside of science including art, math, building houses, etc. Creativity and critical thinking are key components for employers/graduate schools/medical schools. It is also important for you to try research in microbiology or a related discipline to determine if you like working in a laboratory setting, maybe this is not for you? There are multiple ways, including research in Universities and summer programs, for you to get this experience. Lastly, I would find ways to develop and enhance your communication skills. For almost all jobs related to microbiology, you must become adept at both oral and written communication.