André Nunes, who recently returned to us from an important role in central London, writes about the role of the technologist.
‘I was born in Portugal and moved to the UK in 2008. My initial degree was in Nuclear Medicine and I have since completed several post- graduate studies: MSc (Hons) Biomedical Engineering, MSc (Distinction) Nuclear Medicine Technology, PG (Hons) Leadership in Health and Social Care, as well as an ongoing MSc Health Informatics started in 2020. In terms of work, I’ve worked in different settings, always in the NHS (North Middlesex University Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Paul Strickland Scanner Centre and East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust). My roles went from Nuclear Medicine Technologist to Modality Lead, progressing to Research Lead and then to Chief Technologist, up to my current position as Service Manager – Strategy Lead.’
What makes you ‘tick’ as a technologist?
My practice has always been, and continues to be, centred on the patient. From day-to-day scanning and managing a team of 40 colleagues to leading Research and Strategy, the patient is always the focus of my day. It’s immensely interesting to view the patient perspective from all these different angles. The second motivation for me is knowledge and having different ways of complementing it, whether via different post-graduate studies or by daily conversations with colleagues that are more specialised in other areas.
Tell us about your role at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital trust
I was the Chief Technologist for the Nuclear Medicine department, leading a team of 30 radiographers and technologists, as well as deputising to the Head of Department. It comprised the general management of the team in one of the biggest Nuclear Medicine departments in the country, with 9 scanners across 3 sites.
What changes have you seen at PSSC since you left?
I originally had two roles at PSSC, between 2013 and 2016, first as PET-CT Deputy Lead first and then as Research Lead. Since then, the Team at PSSC has grown significantly, managing to keep that sense of familiarity and focus on the patients. PSSC looks even more integrated in the patient pathways now and is clearly an even more fundamental piece in the management of oncological patients in the region. There’s also the obvious changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, to which PSSC reacted comprehensively and promptly, both in terms of patient care and staff safety.
How has the role of the technologist changed in your time?
The role of technologist is very similar to the role of the radiographer; more than changes to the role, the very significant developments happen with the technologies that we use daily. All those advances can be seen at PSSC, from faster and more accurate scanners to more streamlined patient pathways and aiding technologies (such as the new tracer injector we have recently acquired for PET-CT).
How will the role of the technologist change in the future?
A very significant trend that I have been championing is that of advanced practice; both technologists and radiographers have an increasing desire to further specialise and to develop their practice into fields that we haven’t been involved with up to now. Examples of these are some aspects of clinical reporting, administering components in an independent way and leading in clinical areas that we haven’t led up to now, amongst others.
It remains a very fulfilling profession, with very good career prospects.
Which opportunities do you see for PET-CT?
PET-CT is an always evolving modality, since it has the advantage of benefiting from innovations not only in terms of the scanners used but also in developments of the tracers we use. This has been shown very recently with the newest tracers available at PSSC – the use of 18F-PSMA for patients with prostate oncological disease. Other tracers are very promising in other areas of oncology and will be approved and made available very soon.