Susan Novak-Weekley
Degree: Ph.D.
Telephone: 818-503-6884
Employer: Kaiser Permanente
North Hollywood, California  91605


Primary Employer: Reference Laboratory; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Director of Microbiology, Molecular Infectious Disease & Serology
Years in position: 10 years as Director (20 years in clinical microbiology)
Day to day responsibilities:
As the technical Director of Microbiology I am responsible primarily for the technical aspects of my department. Daily activities include speaking to physicians about patient test results, approving some send out tests that are requested by physicians, interface with nurses and other laboratory professionals throughout our region, review procedures from a technical perspective and meet with other microbiology personnel to make decisions for the department both technically and operationally. Other duties include monitoring ongoing clinical trials and validation data and assessing cost analysis information on test internalization.

What do you love about your job?
The main aspect of my job that I most love is the knowledge that I get up every morning and perhaps make a difference in the life of a patient by helping a physician or knowing that my laboratory is a high quality laboratory that impacts patient care. In addition, infectious disease is very exciting not only from the varied infectious agents but also in the burgeoning new developments with the technology and equipment that we use in the clinical laboratory. The field is dynamic and exciting and evolving at a pace that does not allow one to get bored.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
As an undergraduate I pursued a degree in microbiology not knowing what aspect of science I wanted to enter (medicine, veterinary science). Upon completion of my undergraduate studies I decided to continue on within microbiology due to my interest in the field and entered a PHD program. Graduate school allowed me to teach and perform research. Given my interests I was introduced to clinical microbiology and fell in love with the career. After my PHD I pursued a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical microbiology through the American Society of Microbiology CPEP program. This was a 2 year fellowship for PHDs or MDs to become clinical laboratory microbiology directors. During my fellowship I obtained my Limited License from the State of CA I microbiology and also obtained my ASCP license specializing in microbiology. I also obtained the ABMM boards. ABMM certification is recognized by federal and state governmental agencies as a significant component toward meeting licensure requirements to direct laboratories engaged in the microbiological diagnosis of human disease. Type of licensure might vary per state and specific job.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
The technical aspects of microbiology or any field one enters are very important to secure a job. One must be competent in the field that one is working in. The licensure and certification are important to have to show competence in the field and obtaining those early on is probably the best when competing in the workplace. Interpersonal and communication skills are also extremely important in the clinical laboratory workplace today. These skills often leave an important first indelible impression on people that you are seeking employment with. I made sure that I exposed myself to various individuals in the field of clinical microbiology so that I fully understood the discipline and also what the opportunities were for me. Also, know the company/organization that you are interviewing with. Do research before you show up to an interview. Sell yourself, but know what organization you will be interviewing with and the role you will be taking on.