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Andrew Clayton

Andrew Clayton

"The staff are friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and supportive and were great when it came to us trying to finish our portfolio’s!"

How did you develop an interest in Radiography?

I originally studied a bachelor’s degree in psychology, after which I temped at some random jobs and ended up working in neuro-rehabilitation with adults suffering from acquired brain injuries. Working my way up from a basic support worker to deputy manager, over the course of 10 years I also studied an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience. It was during these studies that I was first taught about neuroimaging and MRI’s and visited the queen’s square neuroimaging research centre (which was amazing). I was fascinated and was keen to try and get some experience in imaging research, but it was difficult to get in to.

I was keen to move on from my position but found myself in a tricky spot where practically all other positions at my level (deputy manager of a neuro rehabilitation centre) required the applicant to be an RMN or RGN.  I was never keen on the prospect of completing a second degree to be able to do a job that I had already been doing, but I applied for a post graduate course in mental health nursing at a number of universities around London. I was accepted and invited to City to complete a maths and English test and got chatting to someone who had applied for radiography, and I remembered my interest in neuro-imaging. That evening I went home and looked up the city university radiography course, and I thought it was interesting. I thought about it for a day or two – did some calculations about money and the following day I was on the phone with one of the senior lecturers of radiography saying that they would be happy to meet me for an interview. 6 months later I was turning up for my first day as a student radiographer.

Why did you decide to apply to study at City, University of London?

I applied to City because of the reasons above, mainly. After I had realised that studying radiography was possible I realised that some of the other universities I had applied to also ran a radiography course. I quickly researched the course and found that City appeared to be a well-respected institution for the learning of radiography. I was impressed with City when I turned up for the test day. Having studied two degree’s already, I had some experience of how universities were run and I was impressed that online timetabling was available and the presentation was organised, the building itself looked clean and new- sometimes you just get a good feeling about a place and I felt that I had a good feeling about City.  Even though another university offered placements in a hospital that is my closer to my home, I felt that City was the right choice.

What has been the highlight of your time at City? What have you most enjoyed learning about?

The Highlight for me really has been the clinical placement, I love it. I may be lucky as I am placed at University College London Hospital, but I also think that the clinical experience is what you make of it. UCLH is a very well-respected hospital and has some of the most innovative equipment in London, the first ever reporting radiographer in the UK works there and is a huge source of information. The National hospital for Neurosurgery is also part of UCLH- where hopefully I shall be attending for my elective placement.

I find radiography interesting, and there is a lot more involved than I first thought, but it is fascinating to be in the hospital setting and learn how everything else around radiography works. The staff are friendly, helpful, and seem (to a student) to know a huge amount about the subject.

How have you benefited from the teaching and facilities on your course?

The University has an X-ray suite on camps for practicing positioning- It is very important to get the patient in the correct position for taking the X-rays and I am sure that it wouldn’t be possible to practice this without an X-ray suite. Having it there gives you a really good idea of the conditions you will be working in when you start your clinical placements and I think this makes you much more confident when you arrive and – although nervous – you know how to position for the basics.

The staff are all helpful and knowledgeable about their specialised topics. They are practically always available with an email if you have any queries, and I am confident that if I ever had any major issues that my link lecturer or personal tutor would make time to help me.

We have had visiting lecturers to go through specialised subjects and practical workshops, many of them ex - City students.

I have heard that other institutions learn their anatomy with medical students on cadavers, I am happy that we don’t learn that way at City. I have no doubt that it is a very good way to learn anatomy, I just don’t have any interest in learning that way.

What kind of things are you involved in outside your course?

Outside of my course, I work part time as a support worker for adults with acquired brain injury. I work with a few clients that I have worked with for several years and a colleague that I have worked with for about 15 years. Beyond that I’m keeping up with friends and family. The course and clinical placement take up a lot of time, a stark contrast to my previous undergraduate degree.

I am also (still) learning to play the guitar, and as I used to run induction training sessions at my old job, I occasionally run small training sessions for small groups.

Could you tell us about your placements; where have you been based? What have you enjoyed most? What support you’ve received whilst on placement. What you might get involved in on a typical day.

I am based at UCLH. I have also been to west Middlesex hospital, the Eastman’s Dental Hospital, and Bart’s and St Thomas’s for mammography. At UCLH we are rotated through several departments. Fluoroscopy, Ultra sound, Surgical Theatres, Angiography, CT, MRI, Nuclear medicine and A&E, and then the general areas outpatients and inpatients, and mobiles.

A normal day might involve working in outpatients X-ray department, checking request cards for correct clinical details, calling patients in and positioning for the X-ray while supervised by a radiographer. We would then be processing the images and confirming on the system, speaking to radiologists for urgent diagnosis, then maybe spending an afternoon using the mobile X-ray equipment and visiting the wards and x-raying patients who are too unstable to make the trip down to the imaging department. Although this can change from week to week as each department is different.

Annoyingly I can’t really choose an area that I enjoy the most, I find each of them different and interesting, but I think the best thing about the placement would be the people. The Staff are friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and supportive and were great when it came to us trying to finish our portfolio’s!

What are you most looking forward to during the rest of your time at City?

I am looking forwarding to gaining knowledge and confidence in being a radiographer and a HCPC professional and pushing myself to do the best I can.

How will your placements help you with your chosen career?

To become an HCPC registered professional we must complete a certain number of specific hours in several modalities to be employed as a radiographer. I am hoping to do an elective placement at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at the end of my second year, as with a previous MSc in neuroscience, I feel that might be the direction I want to go in, and I am hoping that some enquiries will help me get information on what I would best need to concentrate on during my studies to get there.

What would be your top tip for applicants for this course?

With the clinical placement don’t be afraid to get stuck in, you will learn from your mistakes, and you can’t really harm anyone with a supervising Radiographer watching over you, so there shouldn’t be any danger of zapping someone with ionising radiation.

For the course itself, you have to get involved, as there is lots of information to learn. A clinical degree is not like most other degrees, it is practically a 9-5 job on a clinical placement and whilst at university it’s pretty much the same and you need to study around that. Time management will be important- I say that and this is my 3rd degree and I still haven’t got it right yet!

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

My plan is to get a job at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery with a specialised band 6 training position, whilst also working as a Bank Radiographer for the general areas, to keep my skill level up. I quite fancy being a returning student to help with running the workshops at City. I would really like to get into some neuroimaging research and do a PhD, but I also quite like the idea of becoming a reporting general X-Ray Radiographer. I realise this may all be a bit much, but we will see.