First KZN trained Nuclear Physician Dr Alphonse Msomi celebrates his graduation with his mom Ntombizodwa Msomi.

KZN Produces the First Nuclear Physician

‘Graduating as the first Nuclear Physician to have been trained in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is an amazing feeling. It’s something that brought pride to my family. I hope this achievement will encourage more young people in the province to pursue a similar career path.’

These were the words of Doctor Alphonse Msomi who recently graduated with a Fellowship of the College of Nuclear Physicians of South Africa (FCNPSA) from The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa.

Even though there are Nuclear Physicians in KZN, they were trained elsewhere in the country and Msomi hopes that his achievement as the first KZN-trained Nuclear Physician will draw special attention to the discipline.

Sharing his life journey, Msomi said his career choice was influenced by his family as his mother is a nurse who has specialised in midwifery while a few of his immediate family members are also nurses.

Growing up asthmatic meant he spent a lot of time consulting doctors. He remembers how he looked up to them and appreciated how they appeared to always know what to do.

The 31-year-old is a Medical Officer in the Nuclear Medicine Department of Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.  He completed his matric at Bechet Secondary School in 2004 and his MBChB degree at UKZN’s Medical School in 2009. He did his internship at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi and in 2012 completed his Community service at the Church of Scotland Hospital in Msinga.

After some work in private practices he then worked at Osindisweni Hospital in Verulam and later began the registrar training programme in nuclear medicine at Albert Luthuli Hospital from 2013 which he completed in 2017.

For his Masters research in Medicine, Msomi is exploring the use of nuclear medicine imaging in patients with carcinoma of unknown primary. His research objectives include looking at whether or not nuclear medicine imaging is more likely to find or suggest a primary tumor when compared to conventional imaging modalities, such as CT or MRI. In addition to that he looks if this has influence in the management of patients in any way. His research questions if there is any clinical value in doing a nuclear medicine scan (specifically F18-FDG PET-CT) in patients with carcinoma of unknown primary?

‘In this region not much research of this sort has been done except in other parts of the world like Europe and North America.   Our population is different however in terms of ease of access to resources and the majority of our patients are only seen once the disease is advanced. In such a setting, I thought it would be useful to see if the same value can be found from using such imaging modalities. Already from the data I have collected I am seeing that patients potentially can benefit in that fewer scans need to be done once a F18-FDG PET-CT scan has been done. This in turn shortens hospital stay, guides the clinician in what other tests need to be performed and helps them to plan a more specific treatment plan,’ he elaborates.

Words: Lihle Sosibo