An Interview With Rui de Sousa – AAST’s 2018 Service Award Winner
Rui de Sousa, RPSGT, RST, is a polysomnographic technologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. He has been a longtime advocate for sleep technologists everywhere, setting up a Facebook page to offer assistance and forums for techs. His passion for the field of sleep medicine is apparent to all those around him, and he uses his skills to help techs, give them a voice and assist new members with the AAST Membership Committee.
How do you feel knowing you’ve won this award?
I am humbled. Truly. I want to say that they accidentally chose the wrong Rui, but with a name like Rui, I doubt many are actually working as a sleep tech! I feel there are so many worthy techs working in sleep medicine today, that to even be considered for recognition is a mind-blowing realization. And when I look back at all the people who have won this award in the past, I am utterly speechless. True greats in our field. The real giants, on whose shoulders I now stand.
How has being a member of AAST helped enrich your career?
I have been working as a sleep technologist for 25 years. I have been a member of AAST the last six years or so. In this time, I feel that I have become closer and more connected with other techs and their shared experiences. We support and learn from one another. Being a member of AAST also helped me attend the annual meetings, which are essential for maintaining your skills and knowledge up to date and relevant.
You’ve made many contributions to your profession, how did you first get into the sleep technologist field?
It is actually a very long story. In short, it involves a “brief” detour from attending grad school for clinical psychology. Sleep was to be a temporary reprieve from school for a year or two, but I fell in love with the field. It was new, exciting, dynamic and, most importantly, I could make a real, measurable difference in people’s lives. I decided to extend that “brief” reprieve, and here we are, 25 years later.
Looking back on your career, what are your most proud of and why?
It is hard to say. There are many highlights, from the extraordinary to the mundane. I am proud of the Facebook group I started about 12 years ago, which has grown to be a vibrant and exciting community of smart and dedicated sleep techs. I am proud of the work I put down in articles, textbooks and conferences. But, if you ask me, what is the highest high, what I really look forward to — it is that severe sleep apneic that returns to tell me their CPAP has changed their life. That patient is what gets me up in the afternoon to work overnights, night after night after night. That visceral gratitude, the heartfelt thanks, from the patient for improving their life, and the knowledge that I truly made a difference, not just in their overall health but also their quality of life.