“Having an impact on a patient's life is incredible, it gives you the most amazing feeling.”
Chloe Westlake-Allen is a 2nd year student on the BSc (Hons) Radiography (Radiotherapy and Oncology) course at AECC UC. We spoke to Chloe about why she chose to study Therapeutic Radiography and what she thinks of the course.
So Chloe, what made you want to study therapeutic radiography?
Well, I knew that I wanted to work in a hospital, but I just didn't know what.
During college I had the opportunity to do a placement at the Oncology department at Bristol Hospital.
The radiographers were so lovely and passionate and so driven about how to treat patients. They showed me so much and I realised this is what I want to do!
It sounds like you really love patient care, why does this part of therapeutic radiography mean so much to you?
I think it's the honor of treating patients and having that reward. Sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's good, but having an impact on a patient's life is incredible, it gives you the most amazing feeling.
It’s that feeling at the end of the day where you think “Wow, I actually did that work, I made improvements in that patient's life” … “It’s the little things like making a patient’s day, knowing that even though they’re going through a hard time, your friendly face and smile might keep them going.”
A lot of people decide to go travelling in their gap year, but you decided to get more hospital experience, what was that like?
(Laughing) Yeah, a lot of people say they want to go travelling after studying, I don’t really know why but that’s just not my pathway. I wanted to get straight into it. In my gap year in between College and Uni I decided to stay on and work in the oncology department. I got to have patient interaction all the time and experienced things that gave me a drive to love patient care even more.
Even now I like being at Uni a lot, but I really, really love going on placement and just getting involved. I’m a people person and not an academic person, so looking after patients, supporting them and things like that, it means a lot to me.
It sounds like you really enjoy the practical side, what is the placement like on this course?
I love the placement aspect. You learn sooo much on placement. Lectures will provide you the background stuff that you need to know, the basics and things, but placement is where you ultimately learn how to do your job as a therapeutic radiographer.
What was the application process like?
Doing my application was quite hard because writing about yourself is a hard thing to do and I wasn’t sure my grades were good enough, so I didn't really have much hope, but then I got an interview. I think it was my enthusiasm that got me in, and the experience I had with patients.
How did you feel when you got the interview?
I was so thrilled, but also really proud of myself. When I got the news, I thought “Wow, this is a great opportunity to show who I am. To show my enthusiasm and my drive to be that person that helps and supports people. “
What do you think makes a good Therapeutic Radiographer?
To be a therapeutic radiographer, you need to be ambitious, determined, hardworking, and as long as you put the time and effort into it, you will go far.
Over time you’ll get that confidence and as long as you put the effort in the lecturers will give you the time and day to give it back.
As someone who describes themselves as not academically minded. How have you been supported on the course?
I knew that I needed extra support with physics, So I emailed Shelley (Course Lead) and she was just like, yeah, that's fine we'll do a one-to-one session and we can do it as many as you want, it was very supportive.
The same goes for all the lecturers, if I'm stuck on anything they're always there to help. Whether it's one-to-one or if it's a group thing that people are struggling with they are easily available and happy to help out.
What would you say to anyone thinking about studying therapeutic radiology?
I would say, get experience, it can help you in so many ways and it can actually make you decide what you want to do as well.
If I didn't have the opportunity to go into the hospital, I still wouldn't really know what to do.
It sounds like that hospital experience was really fundamental for your decision?
I think my experience at the hospital was the most beneficial thing ever. Therapeutic radiography is one of those things that you don't really understand until you actually are in the department.
I have friends who have no idea what they're doing or what they want to do and they're just applying to courses because it appeals to them. But I think, you definitely need to have some experience or a way to know what it takes to become a therapeutic radiographer, or a nurse, or anyone in general in the hospital.
What’s it like studying at AECC?
It's different! I like it. Because we're a small class, we're able to get more support from lecturers and it’s definitely what I need.
What do you like most about AECC?
I like the close community. It’s is a very small Uni compared to others. I think in some big Universities they don't offer the support that you get here.
What’s the most interesting part of the course for you?
I’ve really enjoyed the oncology part. It's really an eye-opener to what a tumor is and I like things like that.
I've seen so many different types of tumors and things like that. You get the regular ones like prostate, breast, head and neck and things like that. But yeah, you get to see some really interesting patients when you come into the department!
Do you have any plans for when you graduate?
I thought I was going to go back up to Bristol around that area, but I ever since I went to the Poole hospital department I think I'm going to stay down in Dorset.
What do you like to do when you’re not studying?
Outside of study. I enjoy hanging out with friends, going to the beach, and getting involved in societies and things like that.
What do you like most about living in Bournemouth?
Living in Bournemouth is really cool just because of the South Coast and going to different coves and beaches and things like that. It's a world of adventure down here!
Have you considered a career in Radiotherapy?
Find out more about the BSc Radiology (Radiotherapy and Oncology) course at AECC UC