Session 3B | Paper 1 Improving Retention in Therapeutic Radiography: Delivering an intervention to enable clinical supervisors to support and nurture students to achieve their full potential

Richard Thorne City, University of London, School of Health Sciences, Associate Divisional Lead (Radiography)

Dr Ricardo Khine Buckingham New University , Associate

Professor in Education – Health Care and Social Work


This paper presents a collaborative project between the radiotherapy academic teaching teams from University of the West of England (UWE) and City, University of London (CUoL), supported by the Office for Students (OfS) Strategic Interventions in Health Education Disciplines (SIHED) Challenge Fund (Office for Students, 2021).

Therapeutic Radiography students’ pre-registration programme requires clinical placement attendance and dissatisfaction with has rated as the most frequent reason for leaving radiotherapy programmes (SCoR, 2014) and healthcare programmes generally (Hamshire et al., 2012). As reported in the “Mind the Gap” project (Jones et al., 2015) different generations of students and staff have different expectations and needs. Furthermore, evidence shows when students feel part of the team, they learn more effectively and have a positive experience (Houghton, 2013).

Phase 1 – Engagement phase:

Clinical supervisors for UWE and CUoL participated in a facilitated online student support discussion forum and the results highlighted a desire to support students on placement but indicated a need for guidance on student wellbeing.

Student feedback was gained via an online survey and the results indicated placement experience varied widely and related to specific interactions with different staff members (Armstrong-James et al., 2019).

Phase 2 Implementation phase:

The phase 1 data informed the design of an educational intervention in study day format and online resources for supervisors. The intervention contained three key themes focussed on the needs of the learner, supervisor and individual wellbeing.

The study day was delivered in London and the Southwest of England and evaluation was captured through participant feedback.

There was a high degree of positive feedback for the intervention affirming its beneficial effect. It provided delegates with reflection time, supervisory skill development and a raised awareness of student need (Bennett et al. 2020).

The study findings may be relevant to other student placement settings.

Slides from the session

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Recording of the session:


Armstrong-James, L., Khine, R., Thorne, R., Tuckey, M., & Bennett, C. (2019). Radiotherapy students’ perceptions of support provided by clinical supervisors. Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice, 1-5.

Bennett, C., Thorne, R., Armstrong-Jones, L., Tuckey, M. and Khine, R. Improving Retention in Radiotherapy – Delivering an Intervention to Enable Clinical Supervisors to Support and Nurture Students to Achieve their Full Potential. The College of Radiographers Annual Radiotherapy Conference 2020, 2020.

Hamshire, C., Willgoss, T.G & Wibberley, C. (2012) “The placement was probably the tipping point” The narratives of recently discontinued students, Nurse Education in Practice, 12:182-186

Houghton, C. (2013) ‘Newcomer adaptation’: a lens through which to understand how nursing students fit in with the real world of practice, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23:2367e2375

Jones, K., Warren, A. & Davies, A. (2015) Mind the Gap: Exploring the needs of early career nurses and midwives in the workplace. Health Education West Midlands.

Office for Students (2021) Strategic interventions in health education disciplines (SIHED). (accessed March 2021)

SCoR (2014) Analysis of student and recently qualified radiographers survey 2014.  (Accessed March 2021) (SCoR Membership required)

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