From the age of 16, after eight weeks of work experience in a doctor’s surgery, I decided I would like to pursue a career in healthcare. During this work experience I followed several professionals including doctors, nurses and phlebotomists.
The practice had a wide range of patients attending for clinics some of which were being treated for cancer. It was then when I started looking into a career which involved cancer care.
At first when I looked at the role of a therapy radiographer I wasn’t sure whether it would be for me due to the emotional side of the job but I arranged to go to an open day at my local hospital, James Cook, so I could speak to the radiographers that work there and learn more about the role.
On the open day several radiographers, students, dosimetrists and lecturers from Sheffield Hallam University were there to show me around the department and to answer any questions.
I followed one of the students around the department in which would be the ‘typical patient pathway’ – CT planning, dosimetry and then to the treatment floor. After this I had some time to look at the computer software called VERT (3D virtual environment radiotherapy) which is a learning tool to help visualise a patient being treated on the radiotherapy couch.
I spoke to the Sheffield Hallam lecturer afterwards about how to apply for the course and she explained the grades I would need to get on the course and that I would have to do a day’s work experience in a radiotherapy department first. The open day made me feel really enthusiastic about the job and after the day’s work experience it was then when I decided to pursue this as a career choice.
I applied to Sheffield Hallam University and was successful to start the degree in September 2011 where I gained an academic background in radiotherapy and oncology to prepare myself for clinical work. Over the three years, I did my clinical placement at The James Cook University Hospital (Middlesbrough) which prepared me for the practical side of the job and obtained experience at both The Freeman Hospital (Newcastle) and St James’s Hospital (Leeds).
I have now graduated as a therapy radiographer with a first class honours degree. Currently, I work at The James Cook Hospital using advanced techniques/technology and ensuring patients’ needs are cared for as part of a radiotherapy team. Being a therapy radiographer gives me excellent job satisfaction and I’m excited to develop further professionally as technology and the treatment of cancer advances.