Three doctors who became friends while specialising as radiologists are now majority owners of an advanced medical radiation workers’ monitoring service. Their success story is setting a path for more equitable patterns of ownership in South Africa and representation of black women in the health sector,
Through an innovative enterprise and supplier development partnership, RAD Imaging Africa, jointly owned by radiologists Dr Nonceba Koranteng, Dr Palesa Mutshutshu, and Dr Jacinta Adrigwe, has teamed up with healthcare group Netcare to fulfil the crucial need for monitoring the radiation doses of professionals that may be exposed to radiation in the line of their work.
The three women are 51% owners of Dosimeter Services (PTY) Ltd, a level 2 B-BBEE Exempt Micro Enterprise [EME], Dosimeter Services and fully compliant radiation dosimeter provider. The company monitors occupational radiation exposure to assist employers with their responsibility to ensure that doses are monitored and reported.
By tracking monthly, annual and lifetime exposure, employers can ensure that radiation workers operate within safe regulated limits. Dosimeter Services is already monitoring 2 750 radiation workers in both public and private health facilities and industry across the country by means of advanced optical stimulated luminescence (OSL) technology, with capacity to expand the service.
The three radiologists turned businesswomen share their stories.
Dr Nonceba Koranteng
From a young age my father inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. He was a physiotherapist and most of his friends were also in the medical field, so I had exposure to this world from a young age. From early childhood, I wanted to take care of people and had an interest in health. I also considered being a social worker.
From the third year of medical school, you get exposure to the different disciplines, but there was not a dedicated block for radiology. I however had a family member who was a radiologist, and this really interested me because it involves technology and innovation.
I ultimately chose to specialise in radiology because it has so much possibility for assisting people through non-invasive means and the diagnoses are the core of guiding surgeons and physicians in treating patients.
Particularly important in Africa is the potential radiology holds for prevention and screening, especially in communities where people do not have much access. Women are still dying of breast cancer – but many more lives could be saved through increased access to screening.
I met my business partners, fellow radiologists Dr Palesa Mutshutshu and Dr Jacinta Adrigwe, at university and as women studying the same discipline together, we had similar passions and aspirations. We qualified together and have worked together on research too. We had a natural bond.
There are not many female radiologists, and even fewer black female radiologists. We felt the need to move into business. And so it began, we attended many meetings, knocked on a lot of doors and started networking trying to find our niche.
We shared our profile with anyone who would listen, and that is how Netcare got to hear of us. Netcare was looking for radiologist partners to help grow an optical stimulated luminescence (OSL) dosimetry service that monitors the radiation doses of radiation workers. As we understand the field of dosimetry, and the need for radiation monitoring, we became 51% shareholders in an enterprise and supplier development partnership with Netcare.
Dosimeter Services supplies, collects and analyses the PRMDs, and maintains comprehensive records to assist in the control of clients’ employees’ radiation exposure, helping employers to ensure that exposure is maintained at safe levels. Monitoring and recording exposure regularly on an ongoing basis also helps to ensure that radiation workers are always following safe practices, using the appropriate protective gear, and following correct operational procedures and techniques.
We are extremely proud to be contributing to the safety of fellow radiation workers by providing this advanced monitoring service. At the same time, we are building a legacy and setting an example for the next generation to encourage a future of more equitable ownership for black women in the health value chain.
My advice to young women is to dream – and dream big. Follow your dreams in whatever you believe is your purpose in life. Be disciplined, be determined, persevere. Have no fear, knock at doors, some day one or more will open. Many women experience crippling anxiety and fear making them lose confidence and drive. This may sound clichéd but knocking on doors is the only way to get doors of opportunity to open up. Don’t timidly wait for ‘something’ to happen; be intentional about finding a way to overcome the fear and anxiety which holds you back, you will surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
Dr Palesa Mutshutshu
I grew up in the village of Moruleng outside Rustenburg, and not many people from there get the opportunity to go to university, let alone become medical specialists and business owners. I feel we have a responsibility to encourage and inspire others.
Initially, I wanted to be a physiotherapist but I took a four year nursing degree instead. In 2000, someone believed in me and saw potential in me and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work in a cardiothoracic intensive care unit [ICU]. I gained more insight into healthcare in this environment, and I met a group of clever young nurses who encouraged me to step out and pursue medicine.
I enrolled on the Wits’ graduate entry medical programme, and once I found myself in medicine. I wanted career growth and to keep learning, so I started specialising in radiology.
My motivation is to keep seeking out opportunity. We wanted more than to be working in healthcare and explored more ways to contribute to the bigger picture. I wanted to build a legacy for my daughter, and to make a name for black women in medicine, in radiology and in health ownership representivity.
OSL technology has become the international standard in dosimetry monitoring, however previously there was no other approved local provider of personal radiation monitoring devices using this more advanced technology in South Africa.
Over the years, it has not been easy to get to where we are today. We dreamed of starting our own radiology practice, but soon we realised it would require huge start up capital and that there is a lot of competition in this space already. We started knocking on doors and growing our network, and this is what eventually led to Netcare noticing RAD Imaging Africa and our partnership with Netcare to establish and grow Dosimeter Services to offer the OSL dosimetry service.
My advice for young people, especially women, is not to restrict yourself to your career. See it differently and look for opportunities because opportunity won’t come looking for you. It is not easy but keep hustling and the right door will eventually open.
Be ready to work hard, the standard nine to five job alone does not put food on the table anymore. It is also important to make yourself known and work at growing your network. In life, surround yourself with people who will encourage you.
We stand on the shoulders of other women; take them with you on the journey – you never know how many generations will benefit.
Dr Jacinta Adrigwe
I descend from parents in the medical field, and this has had a significant influence on me. From the very frequent discussions about medicine at home, to waiting for my father at his clinic after school while mingling with staff and patients, medicine is the life I have always known.
From an early age I became comfortable with the medical environment with my parents working in healthcare in other African countries as well as in Umtata in the Eastern Cape and then Thohoyandou in Limpopo, before I moved to Gauteng.
As I got to know the field of medicine and its duties, the more I got absorbed in its purpose. I also wanted to save lives.
The reality is, I find the whole of medicine fascinating. The wealth of knowledge is like an ocean that keeps growing, and I happen to find myself to be curious about all of it. So when the time came to choose a speciality, I wanted one that would enable me to still peer into the breadth of the subfields of medicine, and radiology is a discipline that is at the intersection of all others.
As a radiologist, throughout my day, I am connected with surgeons, paediatricians, emergency physicians, urologists, pulmonologists, psychiatrists and many others in diverse fields of healthcare. In radiology, I have my fulfilment.
As a radiologist, I myself am exposed to ionising radiation daily in my workplace. As we use radiation through medical technology to deepen our understanding of the inner parts of the human being, healthcare workers are inevitably exposed to a cumulative dose of radiation while attending to patients.
Constantly high doses of radiation can have detrimental effects on the body, such as increased risk of cancers and some birth defects, and for this reason it is imperative to monitor the amount of radiation each radiation worker is exposed to so that an over exposure can be prevented.
As Dosimeter Services, we offer just such a monitoring service to help healthcare workers remain healthy themselves so that they can continue to perform their noble duties on the frontlines of healthcare.
Various people, places, times and sentiments have contributed to my motivation to move into business ownership. It allows one the freedom of expression in shaping a business according to one’s own vision. The desire to always practice in excellence, and unexpectedly strong friendships that formed during my studying years have translated into strong business partnerships that have spurred me on.
Young people may be aware of the importance of inspiration, vision, self-belief, and trust in their capabilities, yet be prepared that something will always surprise you on your journey.
I also advise young women to explore whichever direction they are interested in, as pre-emptive projects and inspired curiosity can develop a person to be highly effective in times of crisis. In learning more and pushing the boundaries, not only can we grow ourselves and the people around us we can help change the world.
For more information visit https://www.dosimeterservices.co.za/
For media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare and Dosimeter Services
For media enquiries, contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clemmy Forsthofer
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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