Meet Cristiana Monteiro, Lead Clinical Cardiac Physiologist

Cristiana Monteiro, Lead Clinical Cardiac Physiologist

Cristiana Monteiro, Lead Clinical Cardiac Physiologist – Complex Diagnostics at Cromwell Hospital, shares what a typical day at the hospital looks like for her, and what she enjoys most about her role.

What does a cardiac physiologist do at Cromwell Hospital?

A cardiac physiologist is a highly skilled professional who has specialised in performing and interpreting cardiac tests and therapies, working closely with cardiology consultants. At Cromwell Hospital, we offer a comprehensive service that makes use of our entire skillset.

We run a busy electrocardiogram (ECG) service that supports every specialty within Cromwell Hospital, alongside long-term ECG monitoring (to detect arrhythmias). We also provide a complex echocardiography service (ultrasound scans of the heart, at rest, during exercise and/or using contrast to better view heart defects) and a pacemaker/defibrillator service (where we can adjust these devices to function better and accordingly to each patient’s requirements and lifestyle).

Our colleagues in the catheterisation (cath) lab support angiograms, pacemaker/defibrillator procedures, and ablation procedures alongside a skilled multidisciplinary team.

All in all, we are there for each patient throughout their journey in cardiology, from referral, to diagnosis, and onto treatment.

What inspired you to become a cardiac physiologist?

I have always been a naturally caring person and growing up I just knew I would end up in healthcare or teaching. My main inspiration was my GP when I was a child. She was the most knowledgeable and caring person I have ever met. I was never afraid of doctors or hospitals because of her, and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She was such a role model of how a woman can be kind, joyful, and successful in whatever she wants to be.

At the same time, I love technology and scientific development, and the area of cardiac physiology allows me to join all these areas into one field of work.

It’s a perfect role if you like variety and excitement at work! Prior to joining Cromwell Hospital, I worked in the medical industry, the NHS, academia and research; I am a board member on national and international cardiology societies, and collaborate with patient-focused charities. Each of these settings has taught me something new and has given me a different appreciation of how much goes into caring for patients in the 21st century. It’s fascinating.

What does a typical day look like for you as lead clinical cardiac physiologist at Cromwell Hospital?

Every day is a new adventure, to be honest!

A lot of my time is spent caring for patients, both in an outpatient and inpatient setting. I perform and analyse echocardiograms and program pacemakers and defibrillators.

I also have an amazing, highly skilled team working with me, and my first priority (alongside high-quality patient care) is to ensure they are well, happy, and satisfied with their jobs. I care deeply about mental health and their wellbeing is priority to me. To achieve this, I need to ensure safe staffing levels, and that the appropriate learning and development opportunities are provided.

Our department is defined by continuous growth and improvement, and as part of this, I spend a lot of time thinking about different ways we can make our service offer more efficient, and better tailored to our patients and Consultants. In this sense, I cooperate with other teams across Cromwell Hospital alongside the Directorate Manager for Cardiac Services, Helder Pereira.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love meeting new people and learning from each one of them. Every patient has a different background and something to teach us. I always do my best to ensure patients leave with a smile and hopefully happier than they were when they first came in; providing a positive, holistic experience is my goal at the end of each patient visit.

The leadership side of the role does bring on development opportunities and allows me to get involved in new and exciting projects. Cromwell Hospital is deeply invested in excellent and modern healthcare, and that truly appeals to me. It speaks volumes about the organisation’s mission.

Something most people don’t know about you…

I am author and co-edited the latest edition of the Oxford Handbook of Echocardiography.

I realised how much I care for policymaking whilst working at Oxford University, and am currently undertaking a Master’s degree in Global Health Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

My parents have always been self-employed and ran several businesses; I have helped them since I was a teenager and that has given me great insights into customer service, productivity, and accounting.

I have a knack for mechanics and am a keen off-road cyclist (several scars and bruises will attest to this!).

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