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Top Tips for Medical Imaging Graduates

24th Jun, 2016

Top Tips for Medical Imaging Graduates

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve set your goals on a career in medical imaging and spent years committed to your studies and training. Finally, you’ve completed your exams and graduated as a Diagnostic Radiographer – you’re ready to begin the career you have worked so hard for.

But just how prepared are you for those first steps into the big, wide world of medical imaging? We’ve outlined some tips below to give you a clearer image (see what we did there?)

Practise makes perfect

Your interview is what stands between you and your first job as a newly qualified diagnostic radiographer so it’s crucial that you’re as prepared as possible. Interviews often hold clinical trials and a more ‘hands on’ portion, which may require you to comment on a variety of x-rays.

Your interviewer might throw a curve ball at you by asking questions about anything you learned, both within the lecture theatre and on clinical placements, so brush up on anything you can. Your interviewer may also ask you to participate in a role play exercise to assess how you would act in a specific scenario – try not to worry and simply do whatever you would if it were a best practice situation!

To help with your interview preparation, we have sourced some typical interview questions that may be aimed at a graduate seeking employment:

  • Why did you choose a career in radiography?
  • Why have you applied at (insert hospital name here)?
  • How well do you work as part of a team and what could you contribute?
  • What do you understand by IR(ME)R and what are the three key roles identified?
  • What projections would you take for a perforated Duodenal Ulcer?
  • You are working alone at night and you are called by theatre, special care baby unit and A&E resus all in quick succession. How would you prioritise where to go first?
  • If you made an exposure that was higher than the local dose reference level, what would you do?

You scrub up well!

You may not have patients in your care 24/7 like nurses do, but you are still interacting with them on a regular basis and, as with any healthcare professional, your patients need to be able to trust you. If you don’t look the part with a professional appearance, they are less likely to do so and this will have a negative impact on your career. Don’t forget that the white lab coat worn by imaging professionals is associated with doctors so your patients will want to put their faith in you.

Ask anything!

If you have a question, ask it; there is no such thing as a stupid question if you need to know the answer. As medical imaging involves ionising radiation, staff would much rather new graduates ask as many questions as possible rather than diving head-first into decisions and making costly mistakes, particularly during your first few weeks.

Expose yourself to the facts!

Make sure you know those all-important exposure factors (what dose to give patients). You can’t afford to get these wrong and overdose a patient on your first day! If you’re unsure of these, always ask another member of your department.

Part of the department!

You’ll be going into a new department so brush up on all exposure factors and department rules etc. This will impress your colleagues and show off your ability to work well as part of the team.

Show your skills!

Ensure your CV is completely up-to-date, detailing all clinical placements and any voluntary experience you may have had throughout your degree and post-graduation period. When possible, always go the extra mile (i.e. learn the physics behind MRI) and show your department your value.

Blog yourself down!

Read as many diagnostic radiography-based online blogs as you can find. These will not only educate you but keep you informed with any news within your field and provide insight into the thoughts of other medical imaging professionals. Any extra research will always contribute to your professional development.

Know your pace!

Theatre work and A&E can be a little daunting at first, especially given the importance of the role and the pressure that comes with it. Before you take on work in this area, make sure you feel ready for it – be aware of and honest about your strengths and weaknesses; patient’s lives could be affected by your decision to move into a high-pressure environment too soon. To begin with, you may want to bring a more experienced member of your team with you so they can assist you with more complex cases.

Patience for patients!

Avoid getting frustrated with patients who don’t fully understand your role. Most patients won’t know that you cannot give them a diagnosis because you are not their doctor so you may hear ‘is it broken?’ or ‘what is wrong with me?’ all too often. Have compassion and understand that they may be frightened or worried about their diagnosis and/or unfamiliar with healthcare processes.

Education never ends!

Finally, remember that healthcare is a constantly changing industry so there will never be a time when you know absolutely everything. You are expected to always work on your personal development and you should, therefore be open to learning new skills and take any criticism for colleagues as constructive – it could prove more helpful than you think!