Why I refuse to accept that a radiography career will be ‘boring’

First year student Chris Gibson responds to charge that radiography is just ‘a lot of routine scans’.

Published: 19 March 2021 Professionalism

‘You will get bored doing this.’ Six words that have stuck with me since my first placement block. They were said to me by a radiographer when we were discussing the day-to-day of the job. Their point was that the job boils down to a lot of routine scans.

Their meaning was that once I am passed the point of being a student radiographer (I am in my first year) then doing the same type of scans for patients day in and day out would bore me, and that I would find the job dull and unstimulating. 

I can’t remember my response, yet those words have stayed rattling around my brain. Will I be bored in the life of a diagnostic radiographer? Am I doing the right course for me? Will it all change once I’ve completed the course? 

At my low ebb, when I am tired and fried from lectures, assignments, and general life ‘stuff’ I worry about this. It’s irrational - nothing in what I have been doing so far has left a shred of doubt that my change in career from science teaching was the right move. However, words have power and these have me shaken a bit, so I’m going to disprove them for my own wellbeing! 

Firstly, let’s deal with the fact that all healthcare workers know the power of words and how they can affect someone. Anyone who has met a patient with ‘hello my name is…’ knows this. So, to tell a first-year student that they will be bored in their chosen career is, to me, a bit careless. 

It also flies against the idea of healthcare being patient-centred and all the study of dealing with patients’ psychosocial needs that I’ve spent a semester reading up on. How can the procedure be boring if you are meeting and dealing with a new individual each time? This is especially true in my experience already when I’ve seen some very intuitive use of the equipment to get the images required without putting a patient in undue discomfort or stress. Literally, creatively working around the patient where needed.  

Secondly, one thing that many radiographers have talked to me about is the breadth of the job. Not just the patient interaction, but the modalities available to work in. How different is CT to MRI to ultrasound? Then there are the research opportunities to push the field forward. Working on audits or researching new methods or trialling some new equipment. 

All of that is without considering the ‘extras’ such as getting involved in the SoR or with universities to help students progress, being a mentor or giving skills seminars to help people like me to become better at positioning. 

So yes, those words bothered me but justifiably and, while I understand where they come from, I disagree. Like all jobs in healthcare there may be routine moments in radiography but it can never be called boring.

Chris Gibson is a first year diagnostic radiography student at Canterbury Christ Church University and a member of the SoR Student Forum