Switching to Apps (& beyond!)

Highly skilled and highly enthusiastic about sonography and all the opportunities possible, Brett Ayres loves what he does day to day even though he NEVER thought he’d make the switch to the corporate world.  He has  a qualifications list that requires dot-points (enviable in length!) and continues to be heavily connected and enamoured with clinical work.  A career in ultrasound doesn’t have to be decades in a dark room – Brett is clear evidence of that!

 

 

How long have you been in the sonography/medical imaging field?

I started life as an afternoon dark room technician at Frankston Hospital radiology department in 1987.  After that year, I then studied and  become a qualified radiographer in 1992.  At RMH, I sat Part I DMU to get a foot in the door to ultrasound in 1995, and then qualified in 1998.

 

Tell us about your sono background…

I trained in ultrasound at Royal Melbourne Hospital with sonographers such as Paula King, Tanya McDonald, Jane Keating, Judy Lees,  and also notable radiologists such as Prof Rob Gibson, A/Prof Rick Dowling  and Dr Alison Rose. In 2003, I was looking to work three days a week (as a virtual job share with my wife, who was working as a Radiation Therapist), and I left RMH to work at Austin Health purely in ultrasound.  In 2004, I jagged a job as the full time Austin Hospital site Chief MIT, and my scanning practice was then probably hovering between the ‘very casual’ to ‘part-time’ categories depending upon my other administrative and radiography duties.

 

How did you come to be working with Canon?

 In 2015, after I never *ever* thought that I would work anywhere else other than a Public Hospital, I came to a career fork in the road where I chose to pursue working for a vendor company.  I joined Toshiba Medical (which is now Canon Medical) as an ultrasound applications person and all of a sudden was working in a completely different work environment, which included travelling across Australia and New Zealand in the new role.  I was also attending conferences and trade shows, but this time as part of a company rather than as a pure attendee.  All of these experiences were simultaneously out of my comfort zone, but I was also having the best time of my career so far, due largely to the company culture and support along the way from great bosses such as Jason Cotter, Michele Rose, Monica King, and my initial OG boss Rob Petersen.

 

What is your current role?

As Canon Medical make ultrasound education a key part of their ultrasound customer offering, I am the Senior Ultrasound Education Specialist for Canon Medical ANZ.  My role actually evolved during the COVID lockdowns when the Victorian apps team started creating some in-house company teaching, which I was very  happy to do the presenting for. We also started embracing customer webinars and I loved helping put them together and hosting them.  A bit of a learning curve, but a real blast to do. Prior to COVID, I was also teaching part-time at Deakin University Waurn Ponds in the subject of Radiology Practice Management for the new undergraduate MIT course.   I did that role for 5 years and I was fortunate enough to be given the freedom – supported by my wonderful colleagues Saba Ansari, Dr Giovanni Mandarano and  Professor Paul Yielder –  to be able to put together an entire course, set assignments and lecture.   This experience is something that has helped me enormously with my current Canon Medical role.  

 

What do you do day to day and what parts do you enjoy the most?

I have a role organising and help realise Canon Medical educational events – whether they be in-person, online, partnering with customers or partnering with ultrasound organisations such as ASA and ASUM. Depending on the event, I’ll either be heavily involved or perhaps partially involved.  In 2023 we had over 54 events, which is delivering more than one a week, which is quite a lot considering most of December and the whole of January are really devoid of events.  (Christmas parties don’t really count….) My days seem to go very, very fast and there always appears much more to do.  I do mainly work from home, and often working with event stakeholders.  As we have so many events across Australia and New Zealand, it is usually the local  state Canon Medical team, comprising of ultrasound, engineering and account management staff who will handle all of the event duties. As Canon has very capable staff in every region, the events are always well supported to the standards we like to hold ourselves to. For myself,  I do personally attend all educational events in Victoria and all national ASA conferences. Intermittently, I do attend some other interstate events, and occasionally there are opportunities that arise, such as in November 2023 where I was the Canon Medical representative on a trip to Tonga as part of the Canon Medical sponsored ASUM Outreach program.    

 

Do you miss clinical work?

 I was missing clinical work a few years ago when I realised that I needed to ‘keep my hand-in’ for my applications job – particularly as I hadn’t really worked at hospitals specialising in OB work. To this end, I went and did a four week locum (during my annual leave) at Goulburn Valley Hospital.  The chief at the time – Anne Bright, and the Sonographer in Charge  – Gavin Curley were very welcoming. Gavin is one of the very best ultrasound supervisors I’ve ever met, and he had the pleasure of me peppering him with a million questions during my locum. He and the rest of the staff were very patient and made my  sojourn into scanning  at Shepparton very productive and beneficial.  As far as clinical work goes now, I do see some of the locums on offer in lovely warm far away places and think maybe this could be a part of my future!  As far as currently being in touch with scanning, I am lucky enough to often work with many of the best sonographers at different education events.   I still pinch myself about getting a front row seat at many workshops to see experts such as Jane Keating, Steve Bird, Andrew Grant, Marilyn Zelesco, Louise Worley, Aaron Fleming , Kate Wilson, Greg Lammers, Peter Coombs, and Jackie Spurway (to name drop, but a few) in action.

 

 What advice would you give to a sono considering a switcheroo?

This is a really great question!!! To go and do ultrasound applications it, of course, helps to be very capable in ultrasound scanning and it really helps to understand technical sides of the machine such as DICOM, PACS and A/V connectivity.  However, there is an extra factor that is really required, and that is the ability to work with many other people under many conditions – as after all, apps people almost always go to customer workplaces to work with them.  For this it helps to have a worldly outlook and to have a fair Emotional Quotient. The people who seem to do well in apps are those that can work well with others, have a somewhat thick skin, are good problem solvers, and know ultrasound very well –  but are still very open to learn new technologies and techniques.  Simples….!

 

 

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