Sunday, 22 January 2012

Top 10 Tips - Students Going On Practical Placement

10. Research your location
Workplaces like to know you have an interest in what they do so try and find out what modalities are available, what kind of procedures are performed, whether they work in conjunction with other hospitals or private practices etc. This will also allow you to figure out what you can best get out of the placement.

9. Review what should already know
It's often a long time between pracs for student and you are bound to forget things so try and brush up on your anatomy, positioning and common protocols for examinations you have learnt on previous placements. Make sure you are also confident with the theory of examinations you have just learnt and will be performing for the first time on placement. Workplaces often become frustrated when students are in their 2nd and 3rd year and can't do the basics right, so make sure you know your anatomy, positioning and protocols for simple examinations like chests, abdomens and extremities.

8. Ask questions…at a good time
Qualified radiographers are usually only too happy to answer your questions and make sure you understand what your doing, but there is nothing worse than a student tailing you with thousands of questions when you are run off your feet. Try to ask questions away from the patient so they don't feel as though they are a test subject. Also, if the department is busy or the radiographer you are working with is involved in a difficult case, wait until you have finished and the madness has calmed down so they have time to think and answer you properly.

7. Don't just work with other students
It can be great having other students around to help each other out, but you will learn more working with qualified radiographers. Also, have 2 or 3 students all helping can be overwhelming for the patient and often leads to examinations taking longer with more mistakes (too many cooks in the kitchen). Furthermore, it can be off putting for a student having other students watching them. Try and spread out and working one on one with other radiographers.

6. It's not all about the competency
If you have to get "signed off" or marked as "competent" for particular examinations, advise staff of what they are at the beginning of your placements so they can offer you the chance to perform these examinations as they come up. Remember however that it is not always convenient to have a student complete an examination as a competency (e.g. when the department is very busy) so try and consider if it a good time before you ask. Make sure you are confident with performing the examination by yourself and don't try and claim one when you haven't really performed it properly. There is nothing worse than students continuously bugging you to sign something off that really aren't competent in doing.

5. Work as part of the team
Try and get involved in all aspects of the workplace, not just x-raying. If there is a complicated patient, ask how you can help get the job done faster. If there isn't much work and people are cleaning, restocking, doing paperwork etc, ask if you can help out with anything. Workplaces really appreciate having students pitch in without having to ask them and tend to remember this when they want a job!
It's also fun to get to know staff outside of work so if you get invited along to something, try to go, it will make working there a much more sociable and enjoyable experience.

4. Take on advice, don't give it
This might sound really arrogant but it is rarely appreciated when a student tells a qualified radiographer what to do. If you think they are doing something wrong, ask them (away from the patient) "is there a reason you do this that way?" or "can this also be performed like this?" Furthermore, if you are told to do something a particular way, there is probably a reason - generally its protocol. If you are really doubtful that what you are being told is correct, ask another radiographer in private. If you are given advice on areas to improve on, take the advice on board, nothing looks worse than a student who appears to know everything and can't be taught.

3. Practice makes perfect
One thing I often see with students, especially in their final year, is they get sick of doing "easy" examinations like chests, hands and feet, however you are never too good to do another x-ray. Just because you may be "competent" at something, doesn't mean you shouldn't keep practicing. So if a radiographer asks if you'd like to perform a certain examination, always say yes! If there is a different procedure you'd rather try to get more practice, explain this to them, but don't ever say "I can already do that" or "I don't need to do any more of those." That's a pretty quick way to get disliked!

2. Be punctual and don't clock watch
It can often be difficult getting to placements which are far from home or require a lot of public transport, but try to arrive 10-15 minutes before your shift starts. This shows staff that you are professional and enthusiastic and makes a good impression if you want a job. Also, don't stand around all day complaining about how much longer before lunch/going home etc - we're all probably thinking it, but try not to say it, it's not a good look! We also appreciate you may have to leave at a certain time for transport or other commitments and people will forget what time you are supposed to leave but it's nice to ask "would it be ok if I head off now, so I can the train?" etc rather than just leaving. If the department is busy and you can stay, offer to stay and help, it will always be greatly appreciated! One last thing, don't expect an early mark, a lot of places will do it, especially if you're not busy but asking for it makes you look kind of lazy!

1. Be polite, friendly and have fun!
Most workplaces want you to enjoy working there so the more friendly you are with staff the more enjoyable your placement will be. Don't just sit and socialise with other students, meet the other staff and get to know them and you'll make some great relationships. When it comes time to hire radiographers, workplaces often look for someone who will "fit in" with their staff, so the more you socialise and are friendly with the staff, the better impression you will leave!


  1. Sorry But do you have any other good tips that you can give me on placement. preferably with communication with both staff on private and public hospitals and to patients as well. For some reason it is an area i am not good at? thank you

  2. Just stumbled across this blog and I've just read through your top 10 tips and they are really helpful. I'm just about to go on my first block of placements as a second year and reading the tips has gave me some food for thought and things I can improve on when I go back so thanks again :)

  3. Hi again, I just wondered if you have got any tips or advice for going into theatre and using the image intensifier for different procedures? I really need all the help I can get when it comes to this as I find it really stressful. Thanks :)

  4. Hi there thanks for sharing this blog :) I am a nursing student and I've just recently decided that I will change my career into radiography. I am in my final year of nursing and it has taken me this far to realize that nursing is definitely not the career that I want for the rest of my life. Although I love working with patients, learning and knowing about the anatomy and physiology and helping people. I think that radiographer will be the right career as it is perfectly combined with working with patients, multidisciplinary team and the high technology X-ray machines.

    You have provided lots of info in your blog and please continue blogging. I would like to read your normal daily routine at work as a radiographer. :)

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