Spotlight on Unilabs pathology technicians: An interview with Nuno Reinaldo, Group Manager Skip to main content


13 June 2024

Spotlight on Unilabs pathology technicians: An interview with Nuno Reinaldo, Group Manager

Pathologist technicians play a crucial role behind the scenes, supporting pathologists in diagnosing diseases, conducting research, and ensuring accurate patient outcomes. Despite working largely out of the spotlight, their expertise is instrumental in providing quality healthcare services.

Throughout this series, we'll delve into the world of Unilabs pathologist technicians, uncovering the skills they bring to the table, the challenges they face, and the impact they have on patient care. 

Episode 1: Nuno Reinaldo, Group Manager

Can you tell us a bit about your role as a pathology technician at Unilabs and what a typical day looks like for you?

As a pathology technician and a group manager, I put a lot of focus on making our lab work as efficient as possible. This implies solving everyday problems that would disturb any process all the way from the arrival of samples to the delivery of the right analysis to our pathologists. Being a technician has helped me greatly in understanding where these problems can originate and quickly coming up with solutions. In my role, all days are different and filled with new challenges, but I do start by leading a morning meeting every day for a short time with the whole lab so we can immediately address and fix issues that came up the day before or that may originate during the day. I also plan for the week ahead to guarantee that all positions in the lab are filled with the right number of technicians and the right competence. There are also a lot of projects and meetings I participate in to make the lab and our technicians continue to grow and develop. I am fortunate to even be able to help out in the lab on the technical side in case of need or every time I have the time to do it.

Pathology technicians handle a wide range of laboratory tests and procedures. Could you walk us through some of the tasks you perform daily?

A pathology lab performs distinct and varied processes daily. In our lab, technicians undertake different tasks each day. These tasks may involve describing samples and preparing them for examination to highlight structures of interest to pathologists. Alternatively, technicians may embed samples in paraffin to facilitate slicing them into very thin sections (approximately 4 μm) and mount them onto microscope slides. They may also participate in staining the slides using various protocols to distinguish different cell structures with different colours or assist in scanning the slides in our digital pathology department, among other responsibilities.

What do you find most rewarding about your work in pathology, and are there any challenges you face in your role?

What I find most rewarding is being able to do every day exactly what I had set my mind to: help people with my work. And in the case of a pathology lab, it involves addressing patient concerns quickly and with the highest quality.

Challenging situations arise naturally. My specific role primarily involves enabling my coworkers to perform at their best. But, of course, not everything goes according to plan. Some instruments may suddenly present issues, technicians may be unable to come to work, or simply because pathology evolves and there are new analyses that need to be evaluated or validated. I gladly face all these challenges when considering the impact on helping someone down the line. I believe pathology technicians are in a privileged position to meaningfully assist others.

In your opinion, what sets Unilabs apart in terms of its approach to pathology and medical diagnostics?

What sets Unilabs apart from others is primarily its people. Every day, I encounter pathology technicians, customer service personnel, secretaries, and cleaning staff who genuinely strive to help the organization reach more customers and patients with higher quality. Unilabs also maintains a forward-looking approach, constantly seeking to pioneer new technologies and offer innovative solutions and analyses that would further benefit our customers and patients.

How do you ensure accuracy and precision in your laboratory work, especially when handling critical samples and tests?

Of course, different samples may require different priorities. However, we consistently handle all our samples in the same manner for each of our processes. The key to success in this regard lies in well-defined routines and clear protocols that everyone agrees to follow. Additionally, experience and open communication with other sites play a crucial role in helping us collectively achieve the best possible results.

Can you share any memorable experiences or cases from your time as a pathology technician that have left a lasting impact on you?

There are numerous memorable experiences I could recount, ranging from identifying and correcting errors to observing samples with various pathologies firsthand, or engaging in stimulating discussions about routine procedures or protocols.

However, one experience stands out above the rest. It occurred when I first peered through the microscope at the distinct structures of a tissue sample that I had helped stain. I vividly recall the overwhelming sense of joy and wonder as I beheld an entirely different world, one that I had played a role in bringing to life. This experience served as a catalyst, motivating me to strive for quality in every aspect of my work within the pathology lab.

With advancements in technology and medicine, how do you see the role of pathology technicians evolving in the future?

When contemplating the future, it's inevitable to consider the automation of processes. As I envision the years ahead, I foresee the role of a pathology technician evolving, but not being replaced, by technology. While molecular techniques may become increasingly prominent, I believe histopathology and immunopathology will remain the gold standards for pathology analysis for many years to come.

In essence, pathology technicians will continue to perform similar roles as they do today, but with the opportunity to adopt new methods that enhance the quality of their work. They will remain integral in providing accurate results crucial for proper diagnoses and treatments.

What advice would you give to aspiring pathology technicians who are considering a career in this field?

As a pathology technician, you hold a crucial role in the diagnostic process, one that can profoundly impact the lives of others. I would advise aspiring pathology technicians to strive for excellence in every aspect of their work within this field and not settle for a subpar level of performance. This advice is not only pertinent because of the significance of the role, but also because you can inspire others to aim for the same level of excellence. Should you or someone you know require the services of a technician in the future to handle samples, you can rest assured knowing that they are committed to delivering the highest quality of care.

Finally, what motivates you to continue your work in pathology, and how do you envision making a difference in patient care through your contributions at Unilabs?

My initial goal continues to drive my passion for pathology. I aim to keep working in a field that not only serves others but also holds personal significance for me. This is what motivates me every day to make the lab a more welcoming and fulfilling place to work, as well as a reference for other pathology labs. I strive to raise the expectations of the lab for all our customers and patients so they feel safe and can completely trust our methods and results.

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