Baruch Videan, Senior Radiographer from Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation trust graduated from the University of Salford BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Imaging programme in 2012. Here, reflecting on his own experience, he offers 5 handy tips to our new graduates
Congratulations! Now you’re qualified. All those assignments and assessments are behind you and you are actually going to be paid to do the job! You’ve landed your dream job, or even one just to pay the bills until those lottery numbers come good. You’ve ironed your new uniform and are going to step through the doorway into your new career. There are so many pieces of advice you could be given that might help, but here are a few to keep you going (please note I didn’t say mine would be helpful, just that they would keep you going).
1. Don’t rush settling in!
Please don’t be gung-ho in your first few weeks/months. If your place of employment has a preceptorship program, embrace it. Yes, most of the jumping through seemingly pointless hoops is at times tedious but If, ** CLICHÉ WARNING** you get your foundations right, the rest will stand stronger!
Even if you trained where you managed to get a job (there must have been some serious chocolate bribery going on!) there will be things you didn’t need to know as a student and therefore you didn’t get to hear about them. For instance; how the manager should definitely not be asked for annual leave before their 2nd coffee of the day or that the mobile machine outside ward 8 will sometimes decide to go backward and crush you against a wall unless you hold the handle ‘just so’. Don’t get me wrong, its great you feel confident and pushing your comfort zone will help you grow as a radiographer but without taking the time to learn the ropes in the, sometimes frustrating, “proper way to do it” you may be caught out if things go sideways. Confidence is good; confidence without basis quickly changes to foolishness!
2. Have confidence in your own ability
Imagine your first day: You have just produced a set of images Clark’s would happily publish, yet you still stand for 5 full minutes wondering if you should really get them checked before sending them to PACS (Not that I ever did that, I was a vision of confidence *cough* this was my friends’ experience) Listen, by all means ask to have them checked when you have to do lateral oblique mandible views on a man who tried to pick a fight with the local bare knuckle boxing champ after imbibing enough cheap cider to sink the royal fleet. However you have just produced a great set of diagnostic images AND YOU KNOW IT! Press ‘Send’ and give a little fist pump (again something my friend did) congratulations you have your first solo x-rays on the system!
3. Ask, ask & for goodness sake…. ASK!
No-one can know everything and unless they start allowing young teenagers into the profession that’s unlikely to change.
When you were being assessed as a student you may have noticed comments in the positives area such as ‘recognised their own limitations’. I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you don’t know something or how to do anything PLEASE ASK FOR HELP!
I once received a request from A&E, I can’t remember what it was for, on it after some other clinical info it was written ‘CIBA’ now I couldn’t for the life of me work out what this stood for, the reporting radiographers and radiologists were no help (‘cardiac infective burp ailment’ was among the unhelpful suggestions) even Dr Google was at a loss! So we called the referring clinician. What followed ladies and gentlemen of the jury is a prime example of why abbreviations should not really be used at all on x-ray requests! “Oh I thought it would be obvious; this patient Came In By Ambulance”
As evidenced above, sometimes asking won’t help, however most if not all your colleagues will normally be happy to help or give advice and it will help you become a better radiographer and in turn you will be able to pass on your experience and knowledge to those who come after you.
4. It’s OK (and normal) to hate it!
Anything new is hard. You are going to tell me that it’s not new and you’ve been doing it for 3 years already. Have you though?! Have you been doing it every day or have you had breaks from placement for Uni and holidays? Have you had to take FULL responsibility for your work in hard and emotionally draining situations? Have you had to deal with difficult patients without a qualified radiographer to back you up? These may sound simple and that they are things you’ve been training and prepared for but at times it will be very hard and you will question not taking that 9-5 job outside healthcare. You will make mistakes, you will get things wrong sometimes. Everyone does. THIS IS NORMAL! But you need to learn from those mistakes. As you gain experience things will become second nature and the stressors will lessen, some will never go away but you will learn to work with them. Let me tell you, you will have some amazing and great experiences too. Just think of the service you are helping provide and you ARE making a difference in people’s lives, no matter how small it seems. Yes at times you may hate it and you’ll spend your evening moping with a large glass of red (herbal tea of course, this blog does not advocate alcohol consumption). Remember though that tomorrow you may have a hand in saving someone’s life – NO ONE can hate that!
5. Take ownership of your own learning
I know you have just qualified and learning more is the last thing on your mind. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you have chosen a profession in which your learning NEVER ends (I know in your head you can hear an evil cackle). So now you accept this I suggest you put some thought into how you go about it. There are obviously be the little things you will be picking up day to day, pathologies, different techniques, how your colleagues take their coffee etc. I’m not talking about those things even if they are important, especially the coffee thing (I take mine strong, milk 1 sugar thanks for asking). You may not already have a long term career plan, but you will have areas that interest you more than other. When the letters C, P & D are mentioned in close proximity with each other most people shudder, however this doesn’t need to be painful. If you hear or experience something interesting, write it down, learn a little more about it. Maybe it will help guide you to what you want to do long term. Even if after you have learnt about it, you decide that actually it’s really boring and not your thing, it is still useful knowledge and dare I say it, valid CPD!
There are loads more pieces of advice out there. Check out the MedRadJclub article on tips for new radiographers https://medradjclub.wordpress.com/medradnews/
I hope I haven’t bored you too much with this blog!
Feel free to get in touch: Twitter: @bozzvid Email: Baruch.firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, Bozz, great tips. Does anyone have any others they’d like to share?