Aged 18, in the middle of my A-levels and applying for university places, I actually wanted to be a Midwife. It’s fair to say that I was more than disheartened when my top choices didn’t offer me an interview though; the reason being that my predicted grades were more “suited to studying Medicine and I should consider that instead.”
It was the peak of exam season and application deadlines were coming and going, but I still hadn’t decided what my back-up plan to Midwifery was going to be! I knew I wanted to work in healthcare but had very little idea of the various allied health professions. A family member suggested I look into studying Radiography; she had a friend who was a Radiographer and it sounded like an interesting job. A radio-what? Someone who takes x-rays? Tell me more?!
A long conversation (over several cups of tea and numerous biscuits!) and a little bit of my own research later and I had decided…with its mix of patient care, technical skills and anatomical knowledge – a career in Radiography seemed like the perfect fit for me!
By the time I had made my decision though, my only option to apply for a university place was through the process of clearing. So, after collecting my A-level results, I drove to the nearest newsagent and bought a newspaper that listed clearing opportunities. I made a few phone calls and within an hour, I had an interview arranged. Call it destiny, fate, divine intervention – the planets aligned and I was offered a place on the course! Only two-weeks after my interview, I packed my things and moved to London.
I loved being a student Radiographer; I enjoyed lectures and being on clinical placement. In my second year, we studied specialist imaging modalities within Radiography, and this is when I was first introduced to the world of Medical Ultrasound. Our lecturer talked us through the most beautiful Ultrasound images of various body parts; kidneys, a thyroid gland, a baby! By the end of that lecture, I knew I wanted to become a Sonographer.
I qualified with first class honours and after 18months working as a General Radiographer, the opportunity to undertake my specialist Ultrasound training came along. I was awarded my MSc with distinction, and remember a conversation with the programme director which went something along the lines of: “It’s great you have an MSc. but what are you going to do with it now?”.
The options at that time were a choice between academia and management, and I thought back to the lecture I had as a student Radiographer; I wondered if I could teach Ultrasound with the same passion and enthusiasm as I had experienced myself? I also knew that I wanted to continue in research – my MSc. had given me the bug, and I wanted to continue finding new ways to further improve my practice and my profession.
It is 6 years since I completed by MSc, and I now work as a Research Sonographer on a large-scale fetal imaging research project. I recently completed my post-graduate certificate in Clinical Education, and with the fantastic support of my supervisors from the City University School of Health Sciences, I have also been awarded funding to start my own PhD research project in 2020.
So, no, I didn’t choose Radiography…originally! Clearing opened a door of opportunity for me that I didn’t know about at the time, but looking back now, I wouldn’t have my career any other way. It’s funny how life works out sometimes…