A blog in celebration of AHPs day by a new therapeutic radiography student at Sheffield Hallam University, Emily Reed 2


Where Were You This Time A Year Ago?

Last year, I was studying a foundation course in Health Sciences at our local University in Middlesbrough. I’m grateful for this because it allowed me to grow and develop and acclimate to student life, and all while still being at home during the pandemic. To begin with, I considered taking a gap year to travel, but I’m relieved that I didn’t since completing the foundation year has proven to myself how much I want to be where I am now. It’s given me the chance to prepare, learn some more about my profession and why it is I want to become a Therapeutic Radiographer. By learning valuable skills and gaining knowledge, I know it will help me progress in my future career. During this period, I was working, so I got to experience the gift of PPE, the stress and high emotions both staff and customers are feeling due to the effects of COVID.

What Inspired You to Enter The Profession?

My introduction to Therapeutic Radiography was an accident. Initially I wanted to study Diagnostic Radiography, but I accepted a placement day at our local hospital and got to experience what Therapeutic Radiographers had to offer. Within fifteen minutes, I knew that this was something I wanted to do. I was also invited back for an open evening, where I had the opportunity to speak with the Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, Jo McNamara. Having spoken to her, I was intrigued and looked into applying, which I don’t think I would have considered had I not spoken to Jo.

At this time, my Grandma was diagnosed and she was attending radiotherapy treatment; one day I was speaking to her and she said that she had told the team: “my Granddaughter is interested in doing this.” Because of her, I was able to accompany her to treatment. I will never forget, I remember them being kind, considerate; aware of my needs as well as my Grandma’s. They still made sure I was happy being there and that Grandma was still also happy for me to be there. I then remember following them out once they made sure she was comfortable, and the whole time they were explaining things to me and asking questions. At the time, and not understanding everything, but knowing enough I was able to offer my Grandma some assurance. Being able to do that for her was a big deal when I knew I couldn’t offer her much else other than support and love.

Coming to Sheffield on Preview Day, having never been before, walking onto campus I had the instant feeling of ‘this is where I should be,’ and I have that conversation with Jo to thank for because it was the best and most important decision, I have ever had to make for myself.

What Did You Have to Do To Get Onto The Course?

To get on the course I completed some group activities, working with fellow interviewees who were interested in a whole array of other health courses. Then I sat my interview, my first official interview of anything in my life, it was scary and I was incredibly nervous. My issues with confidence were at an all-time high, but I knew exactly why I wanted this career, my reasons for choosing it and who in my life up to this point had such an impact on me that I was determined to give it my best. And it worked.

How Has Your First Month Been?

My first month has been incredible, I was someone who never thought that they would get this far, I doubted myself and I’ve second-guessed myself on too many occasions because I didn’t think I was smart enough to get to this stage. But that’s the great thing about family, they don’t give up on you so you don’t give up on yourself and continue to keep on working hard. I was ready to start my chapter in Sheffield and it was my first time moving away from home; to an unfamiliar city which now feels like a second home. I experienced an initial wobble with the workload, but I took my time to think about it and realised there was no need to worry, I have time and will be able to get through it. The staff are incredible and the friends you make are wonderful and they become family.

What Has Been Challenging?

The challenge for me was getting used to the idea of having Health Checks, mainly having our bloods taken because it’s not something I’ve had done before so I was quite apprehensive about it, and having to go through it alone. Fortunately, that fear passed and I got through it. Secondly, adjusting to a way of living in a city I’ve only been to a few times before in advance of starting my degree and how to make the most of it. What helped has been to talk with my Aunts’and Uncles’ about their unique experiences of University life, and seeing the opportunities that lie before me. I can learn to branch out, take opportunities that will open doors and develop my personal and professional growth while I’m a student.

What Has Been the Most Surprising for You?

I’m a ‘yes-person’ when it comes to anything I’m passionate about. What has surprised me the most is the opportunities we’re already given even though we are only 1st year students. Whether it’s through the University or a simple ask from a former teacher asking you to speak to their students about why you chose Therapeutic Radiography – I was never going to say no because on so many levels I know and appreciate how right this decision was for me to make. Being able to say “yes” to these opportunities is only going to help and I want to be the best I can be because I want to show what I have to offer.

What Are You Most Excited About in The Future?

I’m excited about working in the Department, being that member of staff who gave me the opportunity to be there with my Grandma. Our lecturers say that patients will always remember how you make them feel, and I know how I felt as a family member. I never truly knew what I wanted but everything that has led to me taking classes to become a qualified Therapeutic Radiographer are like oddly fitting pieces that have fallen into perfect place. I want to help others realise that this could be the career for them because it has given me so much strength and determination to help and make a difference in our patient’s lives because I have experienced what we can do by simply showing that a family member is just as welcome. And as a Therapeutic Radiographer you can have a massive impact; not just on the life of a patient, as they have given me a career path I’m proud of, and want to do everything I can to make sure it gets the recognition it deserves. I have a large family with a lot of younger cousins who I would love to share my knowledge with and be a good role model to, so that they can understand what it is as a profession, Therapeutic Radiographers do.


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