2015 ASPIRE Module: Clinical Microbiology: Applying Your PhD to Patient Care

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The ASPIRE Modules are short, non-credit bearing electives that broaden the training experiences of biomedical sciences trainees. These elective modules provide efficient exposure to topics in three theme areas: Business/Entrepreneurship, Communication, and Clinical research.The ASPIRE Modules are optional and open to any biomedical sciences PhD student or postdoctoral fellow who wishes to take them to supplement their research training. Class size may be limited, however, and will vary by module. 

Module Title:  Clinical Microbiology: Applying Your PhD to Patient Care

Director: Jonathan Schmitz

Class size: 5 trainees

Registration requirements: CV and 2-6 sentence Interest Statement for Instructor


Deadline: August 21, 2015

Time: Introductory presentation and clinical laboratory tour (90 min – tbd).  Trainees will then spend 2 hour per week for 5 weeks with the medical center’s Clinical Microbiology Service (from 1/18/2016 to 2/19/2016).  Each week, they will participate for one morning and one afternoon in Bench Rounds (9:30 – 10:30 AM) and sessions of the Microbiology Diagnostic Management Team (1:30 – 2:30 PM).  Both activities take place every M-F; during the introductory presentation, trainees will select their days of participation during the 5-week block.  For interested individuals, the possibility will exist to extend their participation beyond 5 weeks (pending overall interest and research mentor approval).

Content: Clinical Microbiology is a sub-discipline of Pathology dedicated to the laboratory analysis of patient specimens to diagnose/treat infectious diseases.  The profession requires broad knowledge of medically relevant organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites), a combination of classic and cutting-edge technology, and management skills to ensure consistent quality and regulatory compliance.  Medical Directors of Clinical Microbiology laboratories include both MD-trained Pathologists and PhD-trained Microbiologists, with different credentialing/licensure mechanisms for each group.  The goal of this Module is to provide a practical introduction to Clinical Microbiology for PhD students/post-doctoral fellows, as well as an overview of the various training pathways.  Enrollees will participate with the VUMC Clinical Microbiology Service in two principal activities: [1] Bench Rounds, during which we troubleshoot emergent laboratory issues with medical technologists and [2] the Microbiology Diagnostic Management Team (MDMT), through which we provide consultative services to managing physicians.  In fact, the MDMT is a unique Vanderbilt initiative designed to maximize laboratory support of patient care.  Through this Module, trainees will better understand the role of Clinical Microbiologists and learn what steps they may take to become one.

Class size: Up to 5 individuals.  Participation in Bench Rounds and MDMT is staggered throughout the week such that only one individual works with the Clinical Microbiology Service during any given session. 

Other Requirements: Prior to participation, participants must attend a HIPAA training session and complete necessary privacy documentation.  Details will be sent well in advance of the Module start date.  During the final week of the experience, each enrollee will give an oral presentation (~20 min) as part of morning Bench Rounds.