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3. Students’ experiences

Following the initial set of questions designed to educate, respondents were then asked about their experiences during clinical placements.

3.1 Symptoms of being bullied

Without being told that the items listed can be symptoms of being bullied, respondents were asked to select symptoms that they experienced during clinical placements. 78% of respondents experience at least one of the symptoms during their clinical placements which is a cause for concern. Self-doubt and loss of confidence are the most frequently selected symptoms, but all the symptoms listed are experienced by a significantly high number of respondents. The fact that these symptoms are not necessarily signs of bullying does not make the results any less concerning.

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3.2 Absence

Respondents were asked whether their experience during clinical placements led them to be absent from the department. 21% of respondents have been absent on at least one occasion due to their experience during clinical placements.

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3.3 Bullying

One third of respondents said they feel they have been bullied during their clinical placements.

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3.4 Action taken by those being bullied

Respondents who said that they feel that they have been bullied during their clinical placement were then asked an open-ended question about the action they took. 92 respondents answered this question. Nearly half of respondents took no action, and nearly half spoke to a member of staff on their clinical placement and/or at their university. A few respondents talked to the bully directly. Some incidents were witnessed and reported by third parties.

When respondents reported the bullying to a member of staff they had mixed results. A number of respondents said that no action was taken as a result of them reporting the bullying or that they were not taken seriously. Some said that the report led to an improvement in the situation, whilst a few said that it had made things worse.

Victims who did not report the bullying gave a variety of reasons: they were afraid of making things worse; the bullying was towards all students, not just them; they discussed it with other students; or they decided to avoid the bully.

Theme Number of respondents Example comment
Victim took no action 44 “I have not taken any action when I felt I was bullied by staff members. I felt that by doing so, would make my life as a student harder in the department, and I didn’t want to cause a fuss.”
Victim spoke to member of staff on placement and/or at university 43 “I reported my concerns to the superintendent radiographer.”
No action taken as a result of report 13 “No action was taken against any of them and the whole incident (despite not being the first formal complaint about that member of staff) was brushed under the carpet.”
Victim afraid of making things worse 9 “I felt that it would prejudice my development in the department if I took it any further.”
Action led to improvement 7 “A few month later I told the clinical lecturer - who then did something (I don't know what) which resulted in all the radiographers being more student friendly.”
Victim tearful 6 “Went to the staff toilets and cried for 30 minutes.”
Victim spoke to bully 6 “I approached the individual and said my piece,
which greatly improved the relationship.”
Bullying towards all students 5 “Talked to other students - we were all experiencing similar problems.”
Victim spoke to fellow student 5 “Spoke to some fellow students and friends.”
Action made things worse 3 “Approached the [senior member of staff] who then went and told the person, who then confronted me.”
Other person reported it 3 “The incident was witnessed by another senior radiographer, who dealt with the matter directly.”
Victim not taken seriously 3 “I feel she brushed my remarks aside and put it down to my over sensitivity.”
Victim avoided bully 3 “I just knuckled down and got on with work and avoided the staff who bullied me.”

3.5 Potential action taken by those who had not been bullied

Those repondents who had stated that they did not feel they had been bullied during their clinical placement were asked what action they would take if they were bullied. 180 respondents answered this question. They were given a list of possible responses and the option to enter a free text response if they wished. Respondents could select more than one response from the list if they wished, so the percentages add up to more than 100%.

Most respondents indicate that they would talk to someone about the bullying if it occurred. Some of the respondents giving a free-text response say they would talk to the bully directly.

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3.6 Witnessing bullying

Finally all respondents were asked what they would do if they witnessed somebody being bullied. They were given a list of possible responses and could select more than one response from the list if they wished, so the percentages add up to more than 100%.

The vast majority of respondents would offer to support the victim if they choose to speak up or report the incident in confidence to a responsible person if they witness bullying.

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