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Leslie Fanola, one of the few Bolivian experts in medical physics in nuclear medicine

Leslie Fanola, one of the few Bolivian experts in medical physics in nuclear medicine

With curly brown hair tied back, glasses and one of his signature medical uniforms, his workday begins every day at 08:00 with the main task of checking daily PET-CT machines and other state-of-the-art instruments to perform the precise treatment of cancer patients at the new and first center for nuclear medicine and radiology (CMNyR) in El Alto, the country’s second most populous center.

This is medical physicist in nuclear medicine, Leslie Vanola Gurrachi, who with ABI shared her professional, work and family experiences, while doing her work in one of the areas of Bolivia’s first high-tech hospital, which the President opened this month. Louis Ars.

She was born in La Paz 36 years ago, and after graduating from the educational unit “Santa Teresa” in the Miraflores district, she entered the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), where she studied physics.

The idea of ​​studying physics was born when I was in school. I always wanted to study medicine, but the professor encouraged me to choose physics and explained that there is also a career in medical physics and it is something I set as a goal,” he recalls with a smile.

Fanola Guarachi has a degree in Physics; However, her studies did not end there, she also did her Ph.D.s and majors at universities in Italy, Japan and Argentina, so now she is a medical physicist in nuclear medicine, one of the few professions and majors in Bolivia.

“Medical physicists in nuclear medicine, at the moment, we are two in the whole of Bolivia,” the professional revealed and explained that it took her about 10 years to get this profession and specialize in the country and abroad, which she would not have been possible without the unconditional support From her family, made up of her parents and a boyfriend.

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“The truth is, my dad and mom always pushed me. Whenever I needed something, my parents were there to support me. Being out of the country and away from my family was hard, but they were always a huge boost to me,” he commented.

The young Bolivian professional also obtained a medical physics major in nuclear medicine at a university in Buenos Aires, Argentina, thanks to a scholarship from the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency (ABEN).

On her return to Bolivia, she joined the Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy Center in El Alto, where she was one of the few dedicated professionals responsible for calibrating and controlling the latest equipment for cancer care.

“The medical physicist in nuclear medicine is not in contact with the patient, he is more than anyone controlling the equipment. He stressed that a medical physicist, in nuclear medicine, must see that the equipment is working directly.

From his experience, he recommended Bolivian high school graduates to inspire them to pursue a career. Leslie’s inspiration was Marie Curie, the Polish physicist and chemist who discovered polonium and won Nobel Prizes.

“When they ask me what it means to study physics?, I always tell them that physics has a very broad spectrum, and that it is not just about being a teacher, there are many applications in sociology, biology, medicine and even medicine… the same economics,” he comments.

She noted the need in Bolivia for more professionals like her; Especially now that the state CMNyR has two more centers with the same characteristics in La Paz and Santa Cruz.

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The first CMNyR with young professionals

The technical coordinator of the Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy Center in El Alto, Rudi Nicino Justiniano, confirmed that most of the professionals, men and women who work in this hospital, are young people.

The ages of the professionals working in this center range from 30-40 years and most of them are female. He confirmed that to join the center, the campus went to train in universities in Argentina through ABEN scholarships.

According to data from ABEN, the country’s first CMNyR includes 30 Bolivian professionals who have been trained since 2019 at the institutes of Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) and associated entities. / ABI.