To give you an insight into what it's really like, watch the film of Patricia on her placement and read Marianne’s lowdown on her placement experience.
Marianne's story: A Diagnostic Radiography student on placement
It’s actually quite a challenge to figure out what a day in the life of a student diagnostic radiographer is like, as every day is so completely different, but that’s one of the things I love about it. As a radiographer, we are expected to work across a range of different modalities such as plain film, CT, MRI, theatres and mobile radiography, ultrasound, fluoroscopy, angiography, nuclear medicine, dental radiography, and mammography. we spend a week in each so that we have a chance to familiarise ourselves with the different roles and equipment and build our confidence.
The key to every area we work in is patient communication. Patients encounter us usually at their most vulnerable moments, whether that be after falling off a ladder and being worried about a spinal injury, about to undergo a pacemaker insertion, looking forward to seeing their unborn baby for the first time, or about to have a scan for cancer staging. Being able to put people at their ease, gain their confidence and trust, and give clear instructions regarding the procedure is of paramount importance.
We usually do shifts, and don’t expect to sit down much during that time! If there are moments when we are not directly involved in patient care there are always things to be done, such as daily checks and stock takes on the crash trolley, restocking and cleaning all rooms and equipment, ensuring the gowns are fully stocked and the linen is or making up the drinks of contrast media to be given to outpatients or taken to the wards prior to scanning.
The learning curve is massively steep, and you will go home exhausted – not just from the physical aspect of walking around 12 miles of hospital corridors a day and assisting in patient manual handling or moving heavy equipment, but because your brain will be saturated with new procedures, new experiences, and new technology. The technology we get to use is just mind-blowing, and one of the things I love so much about it is that it is constantly evolving and getting better. Along with learning how each piece of equipment functions, and practicing with it to get an image that is of high diagnostic quality, it’s always important to remember that we are dealing with radiation a lot of the time, so the safety of our patients, ourselves, and those around us should always be put first.
We encounter all ages of patients, from pre-natal babies, neonates, and children, to elderly, frail people, so being adaptable is also vital to our role. We often work as part of a team in trauma, theatre, angiography and fluoroscopy cases, so knowing our role and communicating with other members of the team is hugely important. Diagnostic radiography is incredibly exciting, challenging, physical, and precise, and I can honestly say that as a mature student who has had a previous career, I have never felt so fulfilled or excited about my future profession. Enjoy it – it will all be worth the effort!