Exploring our role
Trudi Brackstone and Hannah Spittal, third-year diagnostic radiography students, report on University of Portsmouth’s fourth Annual Radiography Student Conference Day.
Dr Jeanette Bartholomew, Head of School, School of Health Sciences and Social Work, opened the day, offering students the sobering thought that in less than six months the cohort will be the future workforce caring for our rapidly ageing population.
Held on 11 December 2014, the day before Christmas Jumper Day, many of us wore Christmas jumpers for the event and together with our lecturers we raised £60 for Save The Children. First to face the audience of shiny-nosed reindeers, penguins and gingerbread men was Dr Rachel Harris, professional and educational manager at the SCoR.
Rachel gave a comprehensive talk on how far radiotherapy has come over the years, and highlighted how radiography as a profession goes hand-in-hand with change.The main topic of her presentation was how change can be positive; she passionately stressed that we as professionals need to be prepared to step forward and be recognised for the critical role we play in the patient pathway.
Paul Moloney, the SCoR’s industrial relations manager, was the second speaker of the day. His presentation also focused on how we should embrace change, but said that change is not always positive. It was acknowledged that although inevitable, we should resist change that negatively impacts patients.
After mince pies, we were given a presentation by Sue Kong, director of NHS Elect, an organisation that provides NHS organisations with support to supplement in-house management teams and training. Sue’s poignant talk helped us to reflect on our roles.
Although our jobs are highly technical, it’s not the technical ability that patients appreciate, but their overall experience. A key concept in being able to offer a good patient experience is to show interest and empathise with a patient. Sue spoke about key life skills and how medical treatment is hard to evaluate; empathy was a key word throughout her presentation.
A negative patient experience that loses the patient’s or carer’s trust in health professionals can have a real impact on the future of that patient’s life and their subsequent meetings with other healthcare professions.
Andy Williams, senior lecturer and therapeutic course leader at the University of Portsmouth, encouraged us to be innovative and lead change so that we as radiographers can expand our roles and provide the high-quality service that patients deserve.
The afternoon session comprised two presentations by two Portsmouth therapy radiography graduates. Alice Alger-Green and Lauren Todd spoke about their lives as newly-qualified radiographers and the impact they had already had within their departments in a relatively short space of time.This provided great insight and helped us to bring our dissertation and assignment work into focus.
The day was an extremely interesting and helpful insight into what it will be like working in radiology, regardless of the paths we choose. One of the main conclusions from the day was that radiology is changing, and will continue to change and that we should, as future radiographers, be embracing that change and not running or hiding from it.
The other piece of advice offered by all the speakers is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.