Going on a placement can be daunting but so beneficial and not to mention fun. Here at Birmingham City University, there are many opportunities for our students to put into practice what they’ve learnt. Diagnostic Radiography student Sarah Hurst had the opportunity to work in three local hospitals, working and learning with qualified Radiographers. Here she tells us how she survived her first health placement and how you can too…


It may sound strange but I felt a mixture of excitement and fear about my placements.

Part of this was from the build up the University gave them. We were advised at the start of the year to think of them as a 3-year long interview, and that because Radiography is such a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else – if we made a bad first impression it could stick.

Prior to our first placement we were trained in CPR and advised on possible worst case scenarios, and what our legal and moral responsibilities are. Which is…pretty scary?!

Additionally, the hospital environment is intimidating. It’s a field under intense public scrutiny, with high standards of professionalism, and literally life and death situations.

So it was very much with this doomsday view that I began the placement, partially expecting to crash and burn…


The reality was so much better!

Primarily because of the extensive support on hand – from lecturers, fellow students, my personal tutor, and the staff at the hospital itself. Even if a worst case scenario happened you would never be expected to tackle it on your own, which is where I learned my biggest lesson; to be as honest with myself and others as possible. Through this I can recognise my own strengths and weaknesses, and develop true team-working skills of offering support, and asking if I need help or advice.

As an immersion into the field I ultimately want to work in, it’s hands-down the best part of my degree so far, and you literally get out as much as you put in.

I got to put into practice the things I’d been taught so far, and see where the practical diverges from the theoretical. And if there was anything I was unsure of, qualified staff were there guiding me, and showing me what we do and why.

It involved more broad skills and knowledge than I’d anticipated; simple things like finding my way around (yes, I got lost a few times!), learning hospital cleaning protocols, and navigating unspoken staffroom rules. But a good dose of common sense and humour helps most everything.


There is a physical aspect to the placement. It’s very active, with most of your time spent on your feet. Special shoes are part of the uniform, and although unattractive they soon become a lifesaver- so definitely invest in a good pair!

Manual handling of patients and equipment is another requirement, and I found the best way to get used to this was to get involved; offering to help others furthered my own knowledge of how best to do things, and showed a willing spirit which the staff welcomed.

If you’ve ever had a job in a coffee shop or restaurant, then you will be well prepared for the tiredness of being on your feet for 7 hours. What you may not be prepared for though, is how exhausted you can get by just being fully alert and attentive for that length of time.

So definitely plan ahead if you need to do assignments, or you may fall asleep on the bus home like me!

The very best advice I can give for everything else is to ask questions. Check things if you’re not sure, and do be considerate by asking permission.

Also pack plenty of food or take money to buy some, and if you want tea or coffee take your own!


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