June’s blog is by Dr Bev Snaith. Bev is a Clinical Professor of Radiography and the Pathway Lead – MSc ACP (radiography) at the University of Bradford (UK). She also holds a joint appointment with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Suddenly you look back at your career and realise you’ve reached the age that you thought everybody was really ‘old’ when you were a junior radiographer. As such the reflection starts on the choices you made which shaped your career – the knock backs, the opportunities and the external influences. All of these are all so personal, based on experiences, situations and aspirations, but if I was starting again would I choose radiography? Would I aspire to advance practice? Could I ever see myself being an academic?
Career is defined as the job or series of jobs that you do during your working life, especially if you continue to get better jobs and earn more money (1 ) and most of us seek greater earning potential as we get older and our outgoings grow. But this month’s article (2) confirmed financial incentives are not the only factor driving career choices, although the mounting student debts and dwindling bank balances may explain why it was perceived to be more important to final year radiography students . As sociable creatures we thrive when working in an environment where we feel fulfilled, but also where there are opportunities for development. Interestingly, but to us as radiographers perhaps not surprising, prestige was considered the least important factor in Kay’s survey. Is this because of the low profile that radiography still has? Indeed other research has confirmed that many people enter radiography ‘by accident’ as in the recent study on gender diversity in therapeutic radiography by Julie Nightingale et al (3) and Bamba et al’s work (4) confirming that personal contacts were the main source of information about the profession.
When I started radiography 1987, probably before many of you were born, those who had drive and ambition had more limited career options, with management, education or industry the clear expectations. Now opportunities are potentially limitless, and the boundaries of the profession no longer exist. Portfolio careers, experience in different settings, transferable skills acquired through initial and ongoing training, are becoming commonplace. No longer is there a clinical glass ceiling, and students expect role development opportunities, as Anthony Manning-Stanley et al discovered (5). Cross-sectional imaging is popular, as is reporting – although the perception that this equates to specialisation in protectional radiography should be questioned with UK radiographer reporting roles evident across almost all diagnostic modalities and practice areas. It is clear that more research around motivational factors for career planning is emerging and if the profession is to recruit and retain its workforce evidence around the influential factors is critical.
So what has been influential in my career? Certainly other people – colleagues, role models, educators. But also the rejections and failures have probably been more impactful and led me down paths I would never have considered. Spending a year or so outside of radiography made me realise how much patient contact was an important factor and luckily this coincided with the launch of the 4-tier structure in England which then defined my goals. Another influence has been education, I have always found myself one step ahead, mainly due to personal investment and many opportunities would not have been open without that. But, roles did not exist when I started this path, pushing boundaries has been a major factor in my career, sometimes unpopular and it has been difficult to strike a good work-home balance, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I remain proud to say I AM A RADIOGRAPHER.
- Cambridge English Dictionary (online). Available from: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/career [accessed 12 June 2022.
- Hizzett K, Snaith B. Career intentions, their influences and motivational factors in diagnostic radiography: A survey of undergraduate students. Radiography 2022; 28:162-7.
- Nightingale J, et al. Gender diversity in therapeutic radiography: A mixed methods exploration of the gender influences impacting on male students’ career choices. Radiography 2022; 28: 258-66.
- Bamba A, et al. Why do students choose the medical radiation science profession? The Radiographer 2008. Available from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.2051-3909.2008.tb00084.x
- Manning-Stanley AS, Kirby M. A study to investigate undergraduate diagnostic radiographer preferences and expectations of clinical role development: Quantitative findings. Radiography 2022; 28: 319-24.