Archive for the ‘Uni Rants’ Category

Work Experience

Recently the SoR tabled a motion about whether to make work experience mandatory prior to commencing a radiography degree in the UK. Surprisingly, it failed to pass, even more surprisingly for the reason that apparently some students find it difficult to get work experience as their local hospital may not allow it.

I feel that this raises a few issues which need to be addressed:

1) Radiography degrees in the UK are funded by the NHS for domestic students. This means that upon graduation, you end up with an internationally accepted degree, with good job prospects, and nowhere near the £27k debt that your flatmates were lumped with. It also means that a lot of money is wasted when students drop out of the course, which happens, a lot. Attrition rates are around 40% nationally, which is shocking, and surely must be at least in part due to students not being prepared for what they’re expected to do.

In my year group, 53 started the course in September 2009, but only 39 graduated in 2012, and I know from talking to some prior to their departure that it was because they were not expecting it to be what it was. Our first placement was within 10 weeks of the course starting, and this was the point of the first exodus. Obviously the academic workload was a major factor for some people, but other reasons I’ve heard range from “I didn’t know I’d get vomited on” to “I can’t stand the sight of blood!”. Even a day’s shadowing would give enough insight into our exposure to bodies and their fluids. One student I spoke to recently asked me how long it takes to become a radiologist once you begin radiography training. I explained the difference, and she seemed genuinely surprised that one didn’t lead to the other.

Personally, I find this level of ignorance unacceptable; in the internet age where information is a few clicks away, and emails can be sent with minimal effort, it really isn’t difficult for people to show an interest in the career they’ve decided to pursue. Which brings me to:

2) Apparently some hospitals don’t accept work experience students. This is an issue which needs to be fixed but it can also be avoided; if a hospital isn’t interested in teaching the next generation of healthcare workers then quite frankly, it’s not somewhere a student should be interested in visiting anyway, because that’s a crappy attitude. I’d be interested to hear the reasons a department could give, so please, if you’re aware of any, leave a comment or two below.

So then it’s up to the student- if your local hospital won’t let you visit, go somewhere else! You’ll have to travel to your placement sites once you’re enrolled anyway, so this really can’t be regarded as extraordinary effort. I appreciate that people have jobs and kids and other commitments, but this is your future career we’re talking about. Is it really too much to ask?


As everyone is probably aware, the NHS is under constant pressure to cut costs, and like most huge organisations is quite wasteful in places. Stupid things like paying over the odds for toner cartridges, or allowing boxes of sterilised orthopaedic equipment to expire, unused, in store rooms, spring immediately to mind as things that I’ve personally encountered. On the subject of NHS funded education, one idea I’ve heard thrown around is to make drop-outs to pay the NHS for the tuition that they received, but I fail to see how that’s enforceable. Especially from students who drop out of further education entirely.

Another way of ensuring value for money could be to make it so that NHS funded students must work for the NHS for n years post graduation, something I assumed was already in place prior to fully researching the degree. This wasn’t an issue for me before signing up as I wanted to work within the NHS anyway*, but I was genuinely surprised to discover that the NHS would pay for your education and then you could bugger off to a private practice as soon as you graduate. Interestingly, in my research for this post I discovered from a UoP lecturer (thanks Mark) that of my year group only two graduates went into the private sector immediately, which isn’t terrible. Also, one went into the priesthood, so that’s… different. And apart from another graduate who left healthcare entirely, and one who has successfully avoided the Alumni’s radar, the rest went into the NHS for their first posts.

*There was a short period of time where after meeting Noel Fitzpatrick (the Supervet) at the UK Radiological Congress in 2012 and talking to his chief radiographer when I desperately wanted to work at a veterinary practice, but after composing an email to them with my (not exactly huge) CV attached, I let it sit in my drafts for a while before deciding to get some experience in the human world first.

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Highs and Lows

The last few days have been something of an emotional rollercoaster: on Saturday we hopped on the Greyhound and went to my mum’s (via the Southampton IMAX for the new Batman installment). We took the puppy to her first clay pigeon shoot on Sunday morning to see how she’d cope with the noise; turns out that as long as the ground is soft enough for her to dig holes and hunt worms / mole people, she doesn’t care. On Sunday afternoon I finally got a haircut- the last time I visited a hairdresser was when I was in Kathmandu and had an hour to kill before collecting my canyon swing photos.

And Monday was The Big Day™, I got to wear a stupid hat and gown, and make my family endure 2 hours of ceremonial waffle just to watch me dash across the Portsmouth Guildhall stage without falling over.

So that was somewhat emotional; I held it together all the way through (admittedly my knees went a bit wobbly just before I did the strut across the stage) but then at the end the chancellor, Sheila Hancock, started her speech with “You did it!” and my eyes started leaking. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest four years of my life; there were times when I was close to giving up, but I stuck with it in the end. That’s the thing with us stubborn types, we obstinately dig our heels in and persevere, even when it’s not the best idea! And whilst I’m on the subject, I also managed to keep my cool and refrain from telling a handful of people exactly what I think of them. It wasn’t the right time, and you never know who your future colleagues might be, so for now I’ll just enjoy the thought of not having to see them again for the time being.

On Tuesday I went along to the New Forest Show, as per usual, and only got slightly sunburnt, which was certainly unusual. Afterwards we took the puppy to the beach and I swam in the sea for the first time in ages, and didn’t get hypothermia, which is always a bonus.

But after a fantastic few days there’s always something that brings reality crashing back through the door; on Wednesday morning I woke up and could hear Matt talking to my mum in the kitchen, which was odd as he’d gone back home on Monday night. It turns out that at some point on Tuesday, while he was at work, our guinea pig, Butters, had died. It wasn’t a huge surprise as he was 5 years old and store-bought pigs aren’t known for their breeding or longevity, but unlike Ike (who had died in December) he hadn’t been unwell or unhappy. So Matt packed up his cage and all of his stuff, and drove down in the middle of the night so that we could bury him in the garden the next morning. that’s three graves in 8 months; I hope the puppy’s digging skills don’t improve too much.

Also, my car insurance expires next month and I can’t afford to renew it so we have left the car with my dad until I know whether I can afford to keep it.

So I’m now home without a car, without my rodenty friend, and I’m no longer able to even pretend to be a student.

Oh well.

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Bus Rant

Portsmouth Uni run a free bus service from one side of the island to the other for students living in halls and houses a couple of miles from the main campus. I’ll admit to being lazy most mornings when I have lectures starting at 9 or 10, and I hop on the bus instead of walking the one and a half miles to town.

But it’s always an eye opening experience. The bus stop is usually crowded with about 20 or 30 students waiting there (more if it’s raining/cold) blocking the pavement completely so pedestrians have to weave their way through the forest of people just to get through it. Of course some aren’t quite so reserved; and I really can’t blame them. One morning I saw a woman ram her buggy through the crowd taking everyone’s ankles out along the way, but in fairness to her she had loudly exclaimed “excuse me” before doing so. The pavement there is quite wide so there really isn’t any excuse, other than selfishness, to block it.

Then when the bus arrives everyone surges forward, elbows flailing, and people even use sports bags as a weapon to push their way through. It’s more calm and ordered at a Red Cross aid post than at the bus stop outside Lidl. Once people are on the bus, some are decent and go and sit, or stand towards the back, but others stand in front of the door with their back to it, ignoring those trying to squeeze onboard. They’ll do the same at the other end as well; it’s not their stop yet, so they’ll stand by the door, blocking it for people trying to get off.

This may seem like a really petty thing to moan about, and in itself it is, but I just find this level of selfishness and ignorance astonishing, from people who are, legally, adults. Especially when it’s fairly certain that they wouldn’t act this way in front of their parents.

Meh. Maybe I’m just a boring old person, but I think manners are pretty important, with or without a university education.

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