2020 students given a big virtual welcome by SoR

Reflections from students on a week of welcoming webinars

Published: 14 December 2020 Students

The first ever SoR Student Welcome Week took place from 26-30 October and was attended by pre-registration radiography students from across the UK, writes Nichola Jamison, interim student support officer.

This student-led event comprised five sessions, chaired by members of the UK SoR Student Representative Forum, and was designed to open up conversations around the most important points in the first academic year.

The event was an important step in ensuring that this year’s cohort was well informed and supported as they embark on a year like no other. Reflection, peer-support, wellbeing and leadership were the threads and themes running through each session of the week, and emphasis was placed on the role of the Society, including access to resources and the wider radiography community.

The event was supported on twitter, with #SoRStudentWelcomeWeek conversations continuing into the small hours after some sessions. I hope that this event has improved the confidence and enthusiasm of this year’s radiography cohort, and I wish you every success in the year ahead.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the teams who worked behind the scenes in Conferencing, Marketing and IT to make this event possible, to those who attended and made it all worthwhile and to all of our panelists who gave us so much to think about and take with us on our own journeys.

Most of all, I would like to congratulate and thank every student who led these sessions. The leadership shown by these students, who are, and have been, so driven to improve and enhance the experience of our new and existing students has been nothing short of inspiring, and entirely demonstrative of the level of passion and dedication held by our future radiographers. I truly hope you can take stock, and be proud of, your achievements.

Following the event, we collected reflections from our session Chairs and attendees, to give a first-hand account of their experiences.

Session 1: Preparing for the year ahead

Chair: Chloe AlthamFinal year Diagnostic Radiography student at Bangor University and secretary of the SoR Student Representative Forum

Panellists: Shaheen Cassamobai, Rebecca Dryland, Nichola Jamison

Chloe ‘Our first session aimed to answer questions or concerns that first year students had about their studies, such as how best to prepare for the course, what kind of things to focus on, how best to learn anatomy, and good books, websites and social media pages.

‘Looking back at the event, knowing that we spanned across Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography, with a mix of students, some starting their degree straight from school, others being mature students, the discussion was wide and varied.  We also had a lot to offer the participants, in terms of our personal experiences since starting the course. My hope is this will then help to set the minds of the new first year students at ease, as they begin their journey into radiography.  The journey is not an easy one, but it is rewarding.’

What did students think of the session?

Leah, Birmingham City‘The webinar allowed me to gain perspectives from all types of people at different points in their journeys, so all the pointers and advice merged into one making it a highly useful session.  I'm so glad I attended this session as it allowed me to gain even more knowledge on how to organise and get the most out my studies!

Georgina, Keele ‘I've already put some of the recommendations into use, particularly those concerning organisation of notes and of assessment dates. I hope that my new-found organisation will help me to stay calm and enjoy working through my degree rather than getting wound up and stressed during exam/assessment periods.’

Kirsti, Glasgow Caledonian ‘It was a good opportunity for me to network while studying for my degree remotely. I left feeling excited and was able to share the information with my fellow students.’

Session 2: What to expect on Clinical Placement

Chair: Niamh O’Hara Final year therapeutic radiography student at Liverpool University

Panellists: Shaheen Cassamobai, Elise Woodbridge-Colella, Nichola Jamison

Niamh ‘I had a brilliant time chairing the session. Elise and Shaheen provided amazing insight into the world of student placements from both a diagnostic and therapeutic point of view and gave some really useful tips and tricks. Starting placement during a pandemic is daunting and I hope we were able to alleviate some of the worries the new students had, and empower them to feel confident about going out on placement, no matter where in the UK they're studying.’

What did students think of the session?

James, Queen Margaret, Edinburgh ‘I attended this session because my first clinical placement is in February 2021 and I felt particularly anxious as the lockdown prevented me from visiting any radiotherapy department prior to starting my course. The webinar has helped me feel much more confident and excited. I now feel I can visualise what the placement might be like, and that I have the skills and knowledge to cope with it.‘

Aliya, Salford ‘I attended this session because I was very anxious about undertaking placement during the pandemic. The session allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how the placement is going to take place this year, and what precautions are in place to ensure that staff and students are kept as safe as possible. We were also given multiple tips on how to get the most out of placement what to do to improve our clinical skills after every placement.’

Session 3: The importance of Self-Care

Chair: Nichola JamisonTherapeutic Radiographer and SCoR Interim Student Support Officer

Panellists: Tom Whelton, Alannah Thomas

Nichola: ‘As students, we become so focused on so many different outcome measures and deadlines that, often, we forget to prioritise our own wellbeing. Self-care is an important skill to possess at every level of practice. It is, after all, the most responsible action to ensure we are in the best state of wellbeing – both physically and mentally – so that we can both deliver excellent care to our service users, and also be present, well and happy in all aspects of our lives.

‘It is important that we support each other in the year ahead, and this session has started some very positive conversations around student wellbeing, informing initiatives which will aim to support our learners throughout the academic year.’

What did students think of the session?

Samar, Salford ‘This was my favourite webinar, as I had been struggling to adjust to university life during a pandemic. I felt like my work was my only priority, and I had forgotten to sometimes take a break from my desk and spend time with my family. One key piece of advice from Nichola that I really liked was that "it's okay to say no sometimes".  I'm very much a people-pleaser but I realised that sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to look after your wellbeing.’

Sumaiya, Derby ‘The main thing I have learned from this session is identifying what my ‘normal’ is. This includes things like what a good, bad and a typical day look like for me.  I am still working on this, but I think my ‘normal’ routine is to have a fairly productive day. This may include getting things done from my ‘To Do’ list and taking regular breaks. This session has delivered great advice on how to mentally prepare for the year ahead as well as placement.’

Sally, City London ‘The conversations around seeking help when you need it are important, but a major point that really resonated with me was the idea of being able to identify that point when things are a struggle, and that I need to get help. Another point that heavily resonated with me was the conversation around the concept of 'normal'. I felt that this was especially helpful both inside and outside of academic life, and will become a key point that I apply in all aspects of my life.’

Session 4: What we wish we had known - Q&A with new graduates

Chair: Ben PottsFirst year diagnostic student from Birmingham City University

Panelists: Jodie Sexton, Rupert MacLaren, Kate Shrewsbury-Gee, Nichola Jamison

Ben ‘Viewers could ask the panel anything they wanted, particularly questions they had been afraid or embarrassed to ask in other forums. We covered a large number of topics including, study tips, referencing, interview advice and how to approach a placement. The engagement from the students was impressive and very inspiring. I learned a lot from the event myself and as I have my first placement block coming soon, I found the tips invaluable.’

What did students think of the session?

Leah, Birmingham City ‘This was a very useful session, presented by a variety of professionals all with different experiences, providing high quality answers to all the questions I had. They made it feel as though nothing was a silly question, which made it very relaxed and welcoming.’

Sally, City London ‘I love the idea of learning from others and sharing experiences. As well as this, the importance of really getting into placement was great and It made me aware that I need to get stuck in- from doing the little jobs to really speaking and getting to know to the patients. It helped me realise that, to get the best out of placement, I need to really enjoy the placement as an entire experience, instead of being so heavily focused on getting the marks and getting good grades.‘

James, Queen Margaret, Edinburgh ‘This Q&A actually turned out to be really interesting and useful for first year students and helped me see how the whole degree and your first paid job all fit together and how what you learn at university prepares you for employment.’

Session 5: Becoming active in your profession

Chair: Kate Shrewsbury-GeeNewly qualified therapeutic radiographer

Panelists: Chris Kalinka, Nichola Jamison

Kate ‘I chaired the session alongside speakers Chris Kalinka and Nichola Jamison. SoR President Chris gave a passionate speech about why you should become active in the profession and what it means to him. I really enjoyed being a part of this session and motivating new students to engage with the profession as a whole and get the most out of their student journey. The welcome week as a whole gave students the opportunity to be a part of something together and start to feel that sense of community that we all love about our profession.’

What did students think of the session?

Sophie, London South Bank‘The most important takeaway for me was that choosing this course is not just the start of studying for a qualification, but also the start of your career in radiography, and being a part of the Society will allow you to begin, and consequently pursue your career path from the moment you start as a student on a radiography course.’

Sally, City London ‘It was fantastic to have the president of SoR on the webinar! Overall, I think that this webinar highlighted the importance of the Society and the community of both diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers. This webinar has inspired me and made me realise that I'm not alone in this journey, and there's a huge community out there, willing to help, if I'm willing to put myself forward. Although I was given an introduction to SOR as part of my course, it was not until this webinar that I felt like I truly understood the purpose of SOR.‘

James, Queen Margaret University ‘I found this session really helpful in understanding what opportunities are available and what's involved. I'm really glad the SoR exists and that students can play such useful roles within it.’

Missed the event?

Don’t worry! All of our sessions were recorded, and are now available to view, alongside event resources at www.sor.org/learning/student-zone/student-welcome-week-2020

Meanwhile, stay up to date with all current Forum work by following us on twitter, using @SoRStudentReps or by searching ‘UK SoR Student Rep Forum’ on facebook. For all other student support and queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Student Support Officer at [email protected]

Ever thought about becoming a Student Representative?

We are always looking for new members and welcome interest from all educational pathways, including undergraduate, pre-registration MSc and apprenticeship routes.

If you would like more information on becoming a student rep, please register your interest by visiting www.surveygizmo.eu/s3/90271259/studentforum or alternatively, email [email protected]

SoR Student Festival 2021 - Save the Month!

We will be hosting a student festival in February, with a range of webinars and 'fringe' events celebrating learning, the student experience and all things SoR. Look out for more details on this website.