Carolyn English is a Nuclear Medicine/MRI technologist, specializing in PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and the Head PET/MRI Technologist in the Fipke Integrated Neuroimaging Suite (FINS) in DMCBH. Carolyn began her career with the UBC PET program in 1994.
“I’ve seen the change in technology first hand, working on five different research PET scanners in my time with the group: the PETTVI, the Siemens ECAT PET scanner, the Siemens HRRT of which there were only a handful made worldwide, the GE Advance and now the GE Signa PET/MRI scanner,” says Carolyn.
As a PET/MRI technologist, Carolyn scans research volunteers for various studies. “When I first started, the main research focus was to understand Parkinson’s disease, from the disease origins and progression to understanding and assessing different treatments,” she recalls. “But now, it has grown to include studies on Alzheimer’s, dementia, psychiatry, COVID-19 and aging to name a few. That’s one of the things I like most about research is that it is always evolving.”
Some of the duties a Nuclear Medicine tech performs include functional imaging, preparing radioactive doses for injection into patients, pipetting blood samples, as well as the day-to-day operation of the lab, which involves scheduling, reviewing protocols and quality control.
“I’m very lucky to work with a great team of PET and MRI techs, researchers, software engineers, physicists, and students so each day can be a little different,” says Carolyn.
Carolyn’s favourite part about her job is the opportunity to meet a variety of people. Research subjects come from a wide range of backgrounds and some of the studies are longitudinal so she has the chance to see subjects come back over many years. “It’s amazing to see the dedication to research they have. I’ve met some remarkable people over the years!”
Carolyn has lived and worked in the Lower Mainland her whole life. She started post-secondary at UBC and then went to BCIT where she graduated in Nuclear Medicine in 1992.
“When we installed the new PET/MRI scanner in DMCBH, I went back to BCIT and got my certification in MRI in 2021, so you’re never too old to learn something new!” she explains.
One piece of advice Carolyn has for others is: “When things don’t go as planned it’s actually an opportunity to learn and change your direction or way of thinking. If a roadblock comes up, don’t let it stop you, take it as a chance to look at new possibilities.”
When she is not working at DMCBH, Carolyn is usually spending time with family and in the outdoors. “I’ve always loved gardening and this year I got a community garden plot so I’ve been enjoying growing all kinds of vegetables and flowers,” she says.
Carolyn completed the interview by sharing her favourite quote: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”