Celebrating Allied Health Professionals Day with Diagnostic Radiography

Emma Hyde, Head of Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Derby and National Teaching Fellow, marks Allied Health Professionals Day with a blog about the importance of celebrating the contribution of the NHS’s second largest workforce, and how the pandemic has prompted a rethinking of the way in which education is delivered.

Allied Health Professionals Day is an opportunity to celebrate being part of a family of 14 disciplines, including my own – Diagnostic Radiography.

AHPs are the second largest workforce in the NHS, but many of the professions remain relatively unknown compared to doctors and nurses, yet we need to recognise and acknowledge the impact AHPs have on patient care within health and care services. Therefore, in the spirit of the day, I would like to raise the profile of my own profession.

Embracing technology…

Diagnostic Radiographers are the health care professionals in hospitals who help diagnose patients’ illnesses or injuries using X-rays, CT and MRI scans.

Sonographers are the health care professionals who use ultrasound machines to help diagnose illness or injury, and play a significant role in antenatal care.

These are both technical professions, using state-of-art imaging equipment to obtain high quality images of patients. Students coming into these professions are attracted by the combination of patient care and use of technology. It requires them to be IT literate, while lecturers need to be technologically savvy and prepared to embrace new ways of using technology to deliver teaching and learning experiences.

This open-minded approach to the use of IT has stood the Diagnostic Imaging team at the University of Derby in good stead with the recent move to blended learning delivery due to Covid-19.

We have adapted well to using Blackboard Collaborate to deliver online lectures, MS Teams for meetings and CISCO Jabber for telephone tutorials. This has enabled us to provide more flexible, bespoke support for our students, to suit their individual needs.

This has been particularly important for the large number of our students who have also been juggling childcare and home schooling due to the pandemic.

Going forward, as a team we are already discussing what elements of online delivery we will keep as a permanent part of our approach to teaching and learning.

…but retaining the practical elements

Online will never be able to be the only way we teach though, as our small group sessions in our Clinical Skills Suite are essential to help students gain practical skills.

We use these sessions to simulate the clinical environments that our students will be working in in clinical practice. Our radiography students practice undertaking X-rays in our digital X-ray room, using our mobile X-ray machine in our ward areas, and working in our theatre setting. We also simulate carrying out CT and MRI scans using special software, and ultrasound scans linked to mannequin ‘patients’.

All of this helps to prepare our students for their clinical placements in NHS hospitals, and ultimately to provide the best possible care to our patients.

Now, more than ever, it is essential we keep our students progressing through our programmes so that they can become qualified imaging professionals, as they are desperately needed to join the NHS workforce in the fight against coronavirus.

Radiographers and sonographers have been on the frontline along with nursing and medical colleagues, as every patient with suspected Covid-19 has needed imaging (usually chest X-rays and/or CT scans) to diagnose their condition, and many have had ultrasound scans too.

Once the current crisis has passed, there will be the challenge of the many patients who have delayed seeking medical advice during the pandemic and require imaging to diagnose and plan their treatment. As a result, the demand for imaging professionals is likely to remain high for many years to come.

So, if you enjoy working with people, are looking for career in a caring profession, and have an interest in using technology, you might want to find out more about our programmes of study here at University of Derby.

Who knows? In a few years  you could be one of the thousands of diagnostic radiographers making a difference to patients’ lives, delivering outstanding care by producing vital high quality diagnostic images.

For more information about Allied Health Professionals Day: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ahp/ahps-day/

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