Happenista Homework

It’s that time of year again. Personal statements have been written. UCAS applications have been sent and the interviewing process has begun to recruit the next generation of diagnostic radiographers. It’s no secret that candidates will be asked why they are considering a degree in radiography. It will be no surprise to hear that for most it is the mix of technical skill and patient care that attracts them to the profession- I gave that very answer seventeen year ago. While my answer hasn’t changed during this time, my appreciation of the patient care aspect of our role has.

In 2002, less than a year qualified, my Mum passed away from a short illness. During this time Mum had became a hospital regular and came across a number of different departments and professionals. It was her account of a visit to the imaging department which made me further consider our role in the patient journey. Due to a delayed scan, and after drinking the copious amount of contrast medium needed for the CT scan, she was desperate for the toilet. She asked the radiographer if she could assist her. The “rather flustered” radiographer said there was no need as they would be with her shortly. However this wasn’t the case. Too weak to take herself to the toilet she wet herself and remained that way until she returned to the ward after her scan. To this day I remember her recount how embarrassed and powerless she felt.

Ours is an interesting patient interaction. In a very short space of time you need to gain the patient’s trust to take the images required, often when they are in pain or scared of the results. Unlike other healthcare professionals you may never see your service user again. As highlighted above we often do this in high-demanding environments and it is a skill we refine throughout our pre-registration and post-registration training.

In 2007 I had the opportunity to explore the patient-radiographer interaction in more detail while studying for my medical imaging masters. I was fortunate to be taught by Dr. Lisa Booth, an expert in this field. In a postgraduate programme which was inevitably technology driven it was refreshing to have a module solely dedicated to the patient care aspect of our role. An over-riding theme of Dr. Booth’s teaching (which uses a transactional communication approach) was how to make the most of the patient interaction- no matter how brief.

More recently I have started to follow the #hellomynameis campaign championed by Dr Kate Granger. I use a “You-Tube” clip of Dr. Granger speaking at the NHS Confederation annual conference and exhibition 2014 to explore with my year 3 students the diagnostic imaging journey through the service user’s eyes.

Although her experiences are not necessarily of the imaging department, there are many strands that can be woven into our practice. Who knew the simple words of “Hello My Name Is ….”, could be so powerful?

So what would I tell my 17 year old self on that faithful day? (Other than breath, relax, smile?). A career in radiography will be everything you think it will be- both technical and patient focused. It will be challenging but also rewarding. But most importantly, no matter where your career takes you, your patient care/ communication  will be at the heart of everything you do.


13 thoughts on “Happenista Homework

  1. rockingyourrole says:

    This blog really moved me @JaniceStJohnMatthews, I haven’t watched the full You Tube Video of Dr Kate Granger, but the story of your mum brings home the fact that in the rush to ‘do’, sometimes we forget our humanity. Thank you for sharing

  2. Amanda Bolderston says:

    Very true Janice, and we all go into radiography to “make a difference”. We are privileged to work in an area where we can have a significant positive impact at a time when someone is sick, possibly scared and worried. #Hellomynameis can make a big difference. The CAMRT (Canadian association) has the “NOD” . You introduce yourself with your NAME, OCCUPATION (good professional PR!) and what you are going to DO to the patient.

  3. Jeremy says:

    This is great perspective. I too entered this field at a relatively young age, and have unfortunately witnessed some of the same horrific behavior mentioned in your post. Please keep doing what you’re doing by spreading awareness and giving a call to action.

  4. vivien gibbs says:

    Most of us enter the radiography profession with a desire to help patients. It is so easy to lose sight of our original motivation with the pressures of our working lives, and your blog Janice is a powerful reminder of how we should always strive to retain that early idealism and basic humanity.

  5. Sue Morgan (@SueMorgan71) says:

    A powerful and moving blog. A real reminder that all our patients are people not just a body part needing imaging.
    Unfortunately, I have experienced similar poor levels of care as a patient – it is part of what makes me so passionate about compassionate care and has certainly shaped both my practice and my teaching

    • janicestjohnmatthews says:

      Sue, thank you for your feedback. I have been amazed by the feedback about this blog to date but am also reassured to see the compassion and passion there is out there. So glad you raised the issue of “patient care” in radiography again in the twittersphere today. There should never be a compromise between those hard/ soft skills. It is what makes radiography such a unique and wonderful profession 🙂

  6. Angela Gullone says:

    Hey Janice,
    I’m no medic and nor have I had a traumatic experience in the hands of care professionals. Nevertheless, thank you for wanting to raise standards and highlight the need for sensitive healthcare practice. You’re compassionate attitude is an asset to your profession. BTW the video was very moving.

    • janicestjohnmatthews says:

      Thank you Angela for taking the time to read this post and your kind comments. As a healthcare educator I firmly believe that it is important that these values are instilled with the future healthcare workforce ensuring we achieve the best possible patient care.

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