Rad work/life: Lisa Marsh, advanced practitioner in mammography

Lisa is a passionate member of Equalise, the SoR’s equality and diversity network

Published: 21 June 2021 Equalities

Get to know our staff and members as they reveal what inspires them at work and play... This month we interview Lisa Marsh.

Tell us about yourself
I have been married for 13 years and have two girls aged 12 and eight. I have made steady progression in my 17-year career as a diagnostic radiographer. I am now a dedicated advanced practitioner in mammography at Medway NHS Trust, Kent, where I continue to train and expand my skill set. I work part time, which enables me to achieve a good work-life balance.

As well as being a mammographer I have been able to expand on my personal interest in the SoR. My manager has been very positive about my membership of the Equalise group, which supports equal rights for all members regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability and belief.

Being involved in Equalise has given me a good understanding of how the SoR works. I can raise concerns directly with leading figures of the society. The Equalise group provides a platform to have a real say on important issues that directly affect me, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM). I can make an important contribution and no longer feel like a number.

When the alarm goes off...
At 6:30am I get my girls out of bed and ready for school. Then I head out to work at around 8am. This could be at the hospital or at another site. My husband works from home and can do the school run.

When and why did you become a radiographer?
I started in radiography at the age of 24. Before that I had obtained a BA Hons degree in design management and worked in construction for three years. I decided to make the change after being offered the opportunity to undergo the four-year, part-time diagnostic radiography course at London South Bank University, while working and training at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This career change was very fun and rewarding. I obtained my second degree while training on the job and maintaining all my financial commitments.

I have worked for several trusts and progressed up the pay banding by doing this. It was this need to continually move to different trusts that highlighted the lack of opportunities for people from ethnic minorities. I was unable to gain further training and promotion internally and was often held back. Even though I showed enthusiasm to progress, I was never ‘quite good enough’ to be selected for progression, even with extensive experience. On some occasions I was the next person in line for the training or promotion but was never given the opportunity.

Why Equalise?
I chose to join the group after a negative experience at a previous trust.
I had to endure extensive discrimination in face-to-face meetings and official letters. This could have had a detrimental effect on my career. I turned to the SoR for help and my representative provided the support and guidance needed to make a formal complaint, which was upheld.

Although this subject has not been talked about openly until now, many managers assert attitudes that hold workers back in their careers. Unfair criticism of work is a form of victimisation, which directly influences people’s career paths and can lead to redeployment or even dismissal. Fortunately, in my case, I was found to be correct and the negative statements were addressed formally and retracted. I was given an official apology by both individuals involved.

Being part of Equalise has highlighted how many people from ethnic minorities face similar struggles in their careers. Many do not have the courage or support to raise a complaint – they feel they will not be listened to or are worried that they might lose their jobs if they complain.

The Society acknowledges this and is trying to move forward by designing new training for managers to tackle unconscious bias and to ensure fairer recruitment processes to enable people from ethnic minorities to apply for higher-level jobs where they are underrepresented.

Becoming an official member of the Equalise group was a positive step. I could talk about my experiences and help to achieve positive change. The group has an extensive say within the Society and there is recognition for the need to better advertise what Equalise represents. One of the main aims is to encourage more members to join.
I hope this opportunity to share my experiences will encourage others to speak out and will help stop discrimination on any level.

Describe a typical day and an Equalise day
A typical day consists of screening non-symptomatic patients for the National Breast Screening Service (NBSS), which often requires me to work off base and to ensure all work is carried out with no management on site.
I also work in clinics for symptomatic patients, recalled patients from the NBSS programme, family history and high-risk patients. As advance practitioners we can perform biopsies unaided by the radiologist. Our scope of practice is very broad and varied, which is what attracted me to mammography. I then head home to make dinner and do homework with the kids. I finish my day around 9:00pm.

A typical Equalise day involves a monthly meeting, which can last from three hours to a full day. During the pandemic I have been able to attend these by video. The meeting is an open forum for debate and allows individuals, who want to play a lead role in some areas, to put themselves forward as a representative for Equalise.

I have been part of the selection panel to choose an audit team to look independently at the SoR in relation to the equality of black workers, prompted by BLM. We can take specific points to Council when we see the need for permanent changes. This has been invaluable in improving and shaping the future of the SoR.

What has been your career highlight?
My involvement with the Society has encouraged me to push myself further in other areas and I have recently been elected a staff governor at Medway NHS Trust Hospital. My aim is to make a positive impact on decisions and to continue to progress the trust’s values. I have been lucky enough to have obtained my postgraduate certificate in mammography, which has opened up other areas for continued training. I now feel that I have moved forward to explore other avenues within the SoR and, being a valued member, I can contribute to further developments to benefit radiographers in the future.

How do you like to relax?
I am a very busy mum of two but, when I have time to relax, I enjoy heading to the gym to keep fit. I like to visit historic buildings and also love to travel abroad. My first love will always be fine-art painting, which I would like to pursue again when I have more time on my hands.

Click here to find out more about Equalise