Enhancing patient-centred care by involving people with personal experience of breast cancer in the training of City Radiography students.

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Since 2016, City, University of London has been collaborating with national breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now, on the Humanising Healthcare programme.

A key aim of the programme has been to improve City radiography students’ standard of training by involving people with personal experience of breast cancer in their training, to help prepare them for delivering patient-centred care once they graduate.

At the same time, a further aim is for the volunteers to benefit from sharing their expertise with students and building a rapport with them as the radiography professionals of the future.

Breast Cancer Now has a section of its website dedicated to the Humanising Healthcare project, featuring resources including FAQs about the programme, Q&As with the academics involved, how volunteers can get involved, and video interviews with City radiography staff, students and Breast Cancer Now volunteers, which bring to life the many benefits the project has brought about to all those involved.

Listen to City students and staff talk about how much they have learned from the involvement of volunteers on the programme:

Humanising Healthcare - Staff and Students

Btesam, a City, University of London BSc Radiography (Radiotherapy and Oncology) graduate and newly qualified therapeutic radiographer writes in her blog about the programme:

It’s important to remember that no matter how much theoretical knowledge we have or how well we do in our exams, all of it is useless if we are unable to apply it to our patients and their specific needs.

‘When we qualify as healthcare professionals, we become responsible for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Volunteer sessions allow us to see the humanity of our patients and ultimately make us more well rounded healthcare providers.

'There is no doubt in my mind that the service user sessions I attended at university made me a more competent student and continue to inform my practice today. I feel very grateful for all the volunteers and service users who have been a part of my student journey because they have inspired me and many others to put patients first.’

Sam Penry, Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography at City, University of London said:

‘Patient volunteers make a huge contribution during the programme and have helped in many areas, right from the beginning in recruitment, to the course design and knowledge-sharing sessions… It’s an opportunity to help develop their knowledge and understanding and really enhance the skills and practices of students.’

Richard Thorne, Senior Lecturer in Radiotherapy at City, University of London shared:

‘I wholeheartedly recommend this to my colleagues at City and at other institutions. The impact that this partnership (working with the volunteers) has had on the students has been really significant – but also, as an academic team, it helps keep us grounded and makes sure our work with students meets the needs of the real world, that we keep the students and ourselves focused on the individual needs of service users.’

Listen to some of the volunteers on the programme describe their experience of being involved, including the difference they feel they have made to the students training:

Humanising Healthcare

The burden of breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes, and with around 55,000 women and 370 men diagnosed every year in the UK.

While almost nine in ten (85%) of women survive breast cancer for five years or more, there are sadly around 11,500 women and 85 men who die from breast cancer in the UK each year – that’s nearly one death every 45 minutes.

Thankfully, cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 years in the UK due to a combination of improvements in treatment and care, earlier detection through screening and a focus on targets, including faster diagnosis.

For many, the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of breast cancer can be long-lasting.

The role of radiographers

Radiographers play key roles in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Therapeutic radiographers use advanced technology to plan and deliver highly accurate radiotherapy for those diagnosed with breast cancer, helping treat the disease and reduce its recurrence. The expansion of the NHS Breast Screening programme has led to many diagnostic radiographers extending their practice to help meet the demand on services, undertaking a range of procedures including performing mammograms and reading them by detecting and assessing on screen-detected abnormalities.

Find out more

Visit the Humanising Healthcare section of the Breast Cancer Now website

Visit the Department of Midwifery and Radiotherapy, at City, University of London

Radiography courses offered at City, University of London: