Dr Cristina Suarez Fernandez is an NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Microbiology at St George's.

Dr Cristina Suarez Fernandez in the lab

What got you interested in Clinical Academic Medicine? 

"The realisation that there are many questions in our daily clinical practice that do not have a satisfactory answer yet triggered my interest in research. However, the clinical workload is often so high that there is little time to spare. Being able to combine clinical work with time specifically allocated for research is my idea of a perfect job."

What was your PhD thesis about and how have you developed your Clinical Lectureship at St George's?

"My PhD was about the epidemiology of multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a hospital in a hyperendemic area in northeast Spain. When I started my current post as an Academic Clinical Lecturer I got involved in a project about the epidemiology of Gram-negative bacteraemia that was just starting. It was pretty straightforward to transfer my skills and knowledge from previous experience to this project.

"I have a strong interest in studying transmission of multi-drug resistance by integrating epidemiological, microbiological, molecular and contact-space information using traditional epidemiological methods and mathematical modelling. For this project, still unfunded, I have had to develop networking skills and establish collaborations with other groups from different disciplines in the UK and across Europe. This would have been virtually impossible without having time allocated for research.

"Finally, given that I mostly trained overseas before starting this post, getting advice and help from seniors and other colleages - and also working as an infection registrar - have been invaluable for knowing the local epidemiology, which is essential for the development of my research projects."

How do you manage a work-life balance?

"Combining a full-time clinical academic job and parenting a young child is definitely a challenge, but possible. You just do it. There is much less time to have more things done, so it is essential to prioritise and to be highly organised.

Also, you learn that things can be done very little by little. That sounds great, but in practice it means that often you need to work in the evenings at home - getting interrupted of course! - while waiting for the washing machine to finish.

Sometimes it is just not possible to meet deadlines, so you do need to let some things go. But it is fine. My life is much better balanced now, as I have to disconnect from work when at home, so I am forced to enjoy life!"

Our academic training programmes

Read more about the academic training pathways we offer at St George's.

Read more case studies

Other clinical academic trainees share their experiences:

Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2016 09:52