Lessons From Greats: Clinical Microbiology Career Advice

Sept. 11, 2023

Passionate entry- and mid-level medical laboratory scientists (MLSs) sometimes struggle to identify mentors and/or opportunities for advancement in the fields of clinical and public health microbiology (CPHM). Over time, this may snowball into “quiet quitting,” in part due to a failure to recognize the critical role played by the MLSs in society. 

Although some bench-level MLSs have carved out a niche and are experts in certain areas in their clinical microbiology laboratory, they may be unsure how to take this expertise and knowledge to the next level and share it with others in the field. 

In this episode of Career Conversations, Perceus Mody, MLS(ASCP)CM SMCM, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory Team Leader at Vanderbilt University Medical Center hosts guests Janet Hindler, MCLS, MT(ASCP), F(AAM), and Marie Pezzlo, M.A., MT(ASCP)CM SMCM, F(AAM), as they candidly discuss the humble beginnings of their illustrious careers and share valuable lessons learned from their combined experience of 90 years.

Throughout their careers, Hindler and Pezzlo have received numerous honors and awards, published over 200 papers/book chapters combined, chaired or served on many committees with ASM, Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and have further shared their knowledge through presentations at professional meetings locally, nationally and internationally. Beyond all these accomplishments, what gives Hindler and Pezzlo the highest sense of achievement is when they see the next generation of clinical and public health microbiologists find their career paths and flourish. 
Photo of Janet Hindler, MCLS, MT(ASCP), F(AAM)
Janet Hindler, MCLS, MT(ASCP), F(AAM)
Photo of Marie Pezzlo, M.A., MT(ASCP)CMSMCM, F(AAM)
Marie Pezzlo, M.A., MT(ASCP)CM SMCM, F(AAM)


Questions Answered on This Episode:

  • How did Hindler and Pezzlo get to where they are today?
  • When was the first time Hindler and Pezzlo attended a microbiology or other clinical laboratory conference? 
  • What was the most memorable publication or presentation from early in Hindler's and Pezzlo's careers? 
  • What were the biggest obstacles Hindler and Pezzlo faced during their careers? 
  • What are the biggest obstacles facing clinical and public health microbiology today? 
  • What are 3 tips for success? 

Key Points: 

  • If you are passionate about the profession, look beyond the bench.
  • Search for a mentor early in your career.
  • Begin to network by attending local, regional or national clinical microbiology meetings, join ASM and communicate/network with others on the DivC listserv.
  • If you don’t see yourself staying in your current position until you retire, start writing down your thoughts (with dates) about your ideal position (within or outside of a laboratory) and envision how to attain those goals.
  • Find something that inspires you in your career and move forward with it.  
  • Approach other clinical microbiologists for technical or career advice.  
Suggest a Topic for a Future Episode
Career Conversations for the Medical and Public Health Laboratory Scientist is a twice-quarterly discussion on career advancement in clinical and public health laboratories. Members of ASM’s Clinical Microbiology Mentoring Subcommittee (CMMS) will invite guests from clinical and public health microbiology laboratories to discuss topics specific to the laboratory. The CMMS’ goal is to help others learn more about the profession and advance their careers in the clinical or public health microbiology laboratory.

The CMMS provides career advancement activities for those new to the field of clinical or public health microbiology. Its roster of mentors is available to answer any career advancement questions you have.

Author: ASM Clinical Microbiology Mentoring Subcommittee

ASM Clinical Microbiology Mentoring Subcommittee
ASM's Clinical Microbiology Mentoring Subcommittee (CMMS) provides career and networking advice to those looking to advance in clinical and public health microbiology.

Author: Perceus Mody, MLS(ASCP)CM SMCM

Perceus Mody, MLS(ASCP)CM SMCM
Perceus Mody, MLS(ASCP)CM SMCM, is passionate about furthering fellow clinical microbiologists’ careers, finding the right fit for them and raising awareness about the field.