Keith Harland PgD, Senior Therapy Radiographer

It appears it was always meant to be, a chance remark by my brother to his son regarding a radiotherapy open day at James Cook in late June 2009. In order to satiate my interest I decided to go to see what was on offer.

Keith Harland

On arrival I was extremely conscious of my age against the majority of other attendees and truthfully I was about to turn and leave but luckily I was intercepted by one of the team who were running the event.

I explained my situation that although I was working happily as a laboratory manager at a multinational chemical company on Teesside with no intention of making a career move, I felt it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my working life. The first question that I asked was if my age would work against me, the answer absolutely not, followed by would mature students be accepted on the course? The answer was an emphatic “yes”

Oblivious to the qualifications that I was required to have to enable access to a degree course in radiotherapy and oncology I was reassured that a recent BSc in an applied science subject would be recognised and that I could consider the post graduate qualification.

So far, so good, it seemed that I was ticking all of the boxes.

After spending some time looking at the numerous poster presentations and acquiring information sheets that were on offer I was invited to take a group tour of the department with a therapy radiographer.

There were a number of points that struck me as I was taken around the department, the number and breadth of roles within a radiotherapy department and the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff that I came into contact with on the tour – in saying that all were at least 20 years my junior which was a little off-putting.

The tour was rounded off with an interactive demonstration of VERT (Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training).

I left the department that day enthused about a career in radiotherapy but not actually thinking it would be possible or practical.

As if by some twist of fate, some weeks later an announcement was made that the company who I was working for were ceasing operations on Teesside and that I was being made redundant.

I contacted the team at Sheffield Hallam / James Cook and put in motion the career move that I had only dreamt of weeks before.

It is now May 2014 and I have recently taken up a post as rotational band 6 therapy radiographer at James Cook.

I am extremely passionate about the job that I do and since embarking on my chosen career path I have actively participated in open days both as a student and a qualified therapy radiographer. I have attempted to translate the enthusiasm I have for the role to encourage others to take the leap that I have taken.

It is clear that I have been extremely fortunate and opportunities have arisen that I have been able to take but if I had not attended that open day in 2009, who knows where I’d be?