Claire Noonan had aspirations to pursue a career in healthcare, but was uncertain what type of health professional she wanted to be. After completing A-Levels, she worked as an administrator in the NHS, but knew she wanted to have a role which was more focused on patient care. With a family already working in the healthcare sector, she organised work experience in Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Claire then started working as a radiography assistant prior to progressing the Master of Radiography (Diagnostic) at Queen Margaret University. She’s delighted to have chosen radiography and she’s never looked back.  

Claire gives us an insight into her diagnostic radiography degree at QMU, and shares some of her student experiences. 

Why did you choose Queen Margaret University to study diagnostic radiography? 

My year group was the first year to be offered the Master of Radiography: Diagnostic at Queen Margaret University. With not many universities offering this new and innovative degree, it presented an invigorating academic endeavour. 

I immediately felt attracted to studying at QMU. At the open day, the staff and students were exceptional in informing me about the diverse pathways that are open to you with a Master of Radiography.  Straight away, I felt so welcome at the University, and knew from the volume of positive student testimonials, I would have a great experience at QMU. The opportunity to study within a smaller class at QMU in comparison to larger class sizes at other universities, held a particular allure. Indeed, the intimacy of learning in a small class at QMU has proven to strengthen collaboration with student peers and foster close engagement with lecturers – both have suited me well.  

What have you enjoyed most about your course? 

One of my favourite things about the course has been the elective placements. I was given the opportunity to travel to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Leeds General Infirmary, offering valuable insights into the functioning of the English healthcare system. Throughout the course, I have engaged with placements in various radiography departments in Scotland, continually acquiring new perspectives on clinical practice. One of my favourite things about radiography is the international mobility, allowing us as practitioners to explore diverse healthcare settings around the globe at our pleasure! 

Tell us about your experience of placements?  

Throughout my studies, I have had clinical placements at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, St John’s Hospital, Victoria Hospital Kirkcaldy, Queen Margaret Hospital, and the Scottish Breast Screening Service. 

These clinical experiences have afforded me invaluable opportunities to immerse myself in a diverse array of departments within the field; I have a particular appreciation for the exposure to trauma and paediatric imaging. Our placement blocks are usually six weeks, allowing us to get an understanding of operational dynamics of the respective teams and hospitals. I have found the placements imperative for taking my theoretical knowledge into my professional practice and have been able to learn a variety of techniques from experienced radiographers, allowing me to adopt my own way of working and improve following feedback. I also found it particularly important to understand the role of everyone in the department, from radiologists, radiography assistants and assistant practitioners to administrators and porters. I feel I am better equipped to help patients now after receiving their knowledge and support – teamwork makes the dreamwork! 

What have been your challenges on the course? 

"Sometimes, I have found time-management challenging with my placement, academia, and personal life. However, as I have progressed through the years, I learned to improve my prioritisation of tasks to ensure I can make more time for myself. I have always felt supported by my Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) in times where I needed more help, and always feel they are understanding of personal circumstances."

Have you felt supported by academic staff at QMU? 

The radiography team is fantastic in looking out for us all and treating us like an extended family. Whenever I have an academic or personal challenge, I can count on the team to help me the best they can. They are very understanding, accessible and even reply to my emails at crazy hours!!! 

Have you used any of QMU’s additional support services to help you with your learning?  

The Effective Learning Service (ELS) at QMU is especially beneficial and I have utilised this service many times for academic writing. The ELS service runs workshops and 1-1 sessions, and they have been especially useful in the time of dissertations! I would recommend all students make use of this service when they feel they need a little more support in a certain area. 

How do you feel your course is preparing you for your career?  

The course has offered me many opportunities to develop my career as a radiographer. I am now a class representative, student representative on the Health Sciences School Academic Board, and a student representative with the Society of Radiographers. All of these experiences have helped develop my communication, team-working, leadership, and problem-solving skills. The University also offers a peer-assisted learning scheme (PALS). I’ve really enjoyed my stint as a PALS leader, working alongside other year groups, while refreshing my own learning. 

What have been some of your most memorable moments at QMU? 

I have enjoyed playing for the QMU netball and badminton team and taking part in matches, training, and social events. I very much appreciate the friendships I’ve formed, and the support systems I have here at QMU. 

What do you want to go on to do after graduation? 

After graduation, I hope to start working in the NHS. I am a keen traveller, so one day I hope to use my degree to work and travel across the world. I plan on applying to the Armed Forces as a reserve radiographer alongside NHS work. 

Sum up your course in three words? 

Challenging, supportive, and rewarding. 

Sum up your overall experience of QMU 

"I have enjoyed every moment of studying at QMU and would recommend the diagnostic radiography courses to anyone who may be considering a rewarding role in the healthcare profession."