Out of Focus - the diary of a student radiographer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The results are in...

... and the university have foolishly awarded me a 2:1!

It took me 16 years to get around to doing it but I finally have a degree to my name. Now all I have to do is find a job but, in total contrast to when I started the course, radiography jobs are rather thin on the ground right now.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Time for the (almost) annual update

Time marches on, and I'm almost at the end of my degree. I'm currently feeling stupidly happy after completing my last essay (woo! yay!) and I've finished all my placement assessments and audits. Only 2 more exams and 4 weeks of placement to complete now - it should have been 3 weeks by this point but I missed a week due to contracting a (sort of) nosocomial infection a month ago.

So by the time the SimonG meet comes around I will be free from the tortures of studying and wondering what to so with myself!

Saturday, June 30, 2007


(This is a fleeting visit to express my frustration at my useless self - normal silence will be resumed as soon as possible).

I hate that feeling that I get every few years that I'm doing the wrong job and something else would be so much more my sort of thing. Well, I've got it again and I haven't even started being a radiographer. Arse. I'm so fickle. Maybe it's the stress of upcoming exams and essay deadlines and I'll get over it in due course. Maybe.

The thing that did it was the placement I had on Friday observing on an ambulance. Now I want to be a paramedic. The novelty of this situation is that I've been here before. Back in 2001 I applied to be an ambulance technician and passed all the assessments except the fitness test. I was even offered a training place subject to passing the fitness test. I trained hard but my heart rate let me down. My resting heart rate was fine - even now with my far more sedentary lifestyle and increased weight it's about 70 which is average. But they measure your heart rate whilst going up and down steps whilst carrying 30kg and if it goes above 90% of your theoretical maximum, that's it. Fail. It didn't matter that I could physically complete the test without collapsing and the gym lady said my heart rate returned to normal really quickly which was the criteria *they* used to measure fitness.

For some reason my heart has always had a tendancy to run fast when exercising. At the gym, the exercise machines had heart monitors in and they were constantly telling me to slow down so my heart rate would come down a bit. Thing is, if I obeyed the gym machine I didn't feel like I was getting any real exercise. I guess I'm just weird.

Anyway, I kept trying. Then in 2002 I came down with a bad back and decided it was probably a good thing I hadn't got a job as an ambulance tech. My back is more or less fine now, but with the occasional twinge to remind me to look after it. So I got over wanting to be a paramedic.

So, despite my history of a dodgy back, my past failures at the fitness test, the fact that I haven't been near a gym in years, I weigh more now, I have trained 2 and a half years to be a radiographer, and there aren't any unis near me that run paramedic courses (techs are being phased out) - despite all this I now want to be a paramedic again.

Bah. My head is *so * messed up. Anyone know where I can get a fully functioning one from?

Friday, February 23, 2007

A small update

Just a little update to reassure anyone who cares, or anyone who happened to notice my blog was updated for the first time in over a year, that I haven't died - I've just been beavering away at this here university thing.

Not much has changed - Adam is fine, the cats are fine, my back is fine. We're still geocaching. And I've just got my 2nd year results! Average of 62% - that's the highest mark of the cohort.

Nothing more to see, move along now...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

And now, the end is near...

Phew! That's it - all over for my first year at uni (although I officially don't finish the first year until Friday). All my essays and the portfolio are in, yesterday I had an exam and today I had a 10 minute presentation "The role of digital imaging in imaging the lumbar spine" to give. I was up third which wasn't too bad - I then had to sit through six more presentations, luckily not all on the same topic.

To amuse myself whilst the rest of the presentations were going on, I got Tom Baker to talk to Adam, which apparently made him jump (Adam, not Tom Baker).

I'm off now to pack my case as we're off to Dorsetland for the rest of the week - yay!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

PACS of fun

The radiology dept is having a fun time at the moment. We are having a new computer system called PACS installed which means eventually we will stop printing x-ray images into film. We area already taking digital images (known as computed radiography or CR) but PACS enables the images to be stored and viewed on terminals with special high-resolution monitors all over the hospital, and in time, other hospital and GPs surgeries.

Like all new IT systems, this one is suffering from its fair share of teething troubles. The PACS system is having to cope with input from lots of different equipment from different manufacturers. Random images from one of the fluoroscopy rooms have been disappearing into the ether, never to be seen again. The superintendent (radiographer in charge) has been ranting about how useless PACS is to any person who will listen, and several who won't.

Don't you just love technology? I'm just glad my current placement is finished and hopefully they will hit it with a big stick and get it sorted before I go back in two weeks time.

A footnote: when I found the NHS website about PACS that I linked to above, I took a look at the page about the benefits of PACS to radiographers. The list consists of benefits of a CR system, not PACS, which (as the name says) is purely an archiving and communication system. The only benefit of PACS to radiographers is not having to print films. Granted, many hospitals are getting CR and PACS at the same time, but I wish the people who write these things would check their facts with the people who know.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I witnessed my second ever crash call yesterday. I had seen one in the first few months of my HCA job, this was the first since I became a student.

An elderly gentleman was getting up off the table after a barium enema and passed out. The call was made and within minutes about 20 doctors appeared from various directions. When something like this happens, you learn very quickly where various emergency supplies are kept in the department.

It's a pity I had to leave while it was still going on as I had to catch the intersite bus for a meeting with my mentor. By the time I left the docs were giving him IV fluids and monitoring his blood pressure and everyone seemed a lot calmer so I guess they got him stablised. The first thing I did when I got in this morning was ask after him - he was sent down to A&E and apparently was suffering from vasovagal syncope, nothing serious fortunately.