Panel Discussion: Increasing Placement Capacity for Student Radiographers

Last week, the Clinical Imaging team at AECC University College attended the Medical Imaging Convention; a comprehensive programme of online seminars focusing on the latest innovations in imaging diagnosis and treatment within the UK.

The Convention brought together experts from across the Medical Imaging sector and, held virtually, was accessible to imaging staff across the country.

Clinical Imaging Lead at AECC University College, Matthew Southam, was invited to speak at a panel discussion focusing on education and recruitment in Medical Imaging, in response to the national shortage of Radiographers.

The panel highlighted the challenges presented to the NHS in light of this shortage and explored potential solutions to this.

Matthew explains: “Medical imaging activity is increasing each year in clinical settings and as a sector, we need staff numbers to be increasing with it. This isn’t the case at the moment; we need to be training staff at all levels in Radiology departments: from Assistant Practitioners, to Radiographers, to Radiologists and Sonographers.

“The panel discussion outlined the ways in which training in medical imaging is delivered, and identified ways that we can be adapting and updating this.

"It was suggested that we need to shift and evolve some of our previous ideas; to start making greater use of technology, and sharing technology across the country.

"We ultimately need to find ways to increase training capacity, without placing additional strain on the NHS.”

Increasing placement capacity

“A lot of Radiology relates to reporting images on a screen. There’s therefore an opportunity to use a cloud-based system to teach Radiography students reporting using software that would allow multiple students to learn at once, rather than resource-intensive one-on-one sessions.

“We also discussed ways of increasing the availability of placements by changing the ways that they run. This could mean doubling up students in certain areas, for example. We’re looking at ways of increasing student numbers, whilst also ensuring quality standards remain high.”

Advantages of simulation  

“A key aspect of this is making full use of simulation on campus. This was a key point of discussion in the convention, but also something that makes our Medical Imaging courses unique and quite special for applicants.

“We can give students the technical experience they need to operate the machines using simulation, so that when they go on placement, there’s a premium on that experience. That way, students aren’t learning something that they could have learned on campus on their placement; they’re gaining real depth of experience.

“We can spend a long time talking to students about technical issues when we’re using simulation, which we wouldn’t be able to do with a patient there. We can spend a long time changing things on the machines and trying out different things.

“Similarly, when students are on placement, we want to make sure that patient care is the main focus and that our students are applying their technical knowledge to each individual case.”

Work with Health Education England

“We discussed work that we have been doing with Health Education England that involves addressing the Radiographer Workforce shortage in the South East.

"A main focus of this involves optimizing and increasing the number of student placements within the region, and there are some really exciting developments launching in the next few months to support this." 

Matthew Southam

Above: Clinical Imaging Lead at AECC University College, Matthew Southam