Heather Burke, 26, from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, is currently studying MSc Diagnostic Radiography (Pre-registration) full-time at QMU.
Heather has always had a love and a curiosity for science, particularly the health sciences. Her undergraduate science degree allowed her to explore these interests and she graduated from University College Dublin in 2013 with a BSc in Genetics.
She continued her interest in biomedical science by undertaking an MSc in Translational Oncology from Trinity College Dublin in 2014.
Following her MSc, Heather decided to work in clinical research as she believed this would be a hands-on way of working in science and healthcare.
Heather gained invaluable work experience and knowledge in her two years at a multi-national clinical research organisation. However, Heather felt that this position highlighted certain aspects of her career goals that were not being fulfilled.
Heather’s ideal career would involve daily application of her scientific knowledge, direct patient contact, a diverse workload, the ability to expand her knowledge and advance in her chosen field. Based on this, Heather decided to pursue a career in Radiography.
Why did you choose to study MSc Diagnostic Radiography (Pre-registration) at QMU?
“Choosing to study at QMU was one of the easiest decisions of my career progression. QMU is a leading centre of excellence for diagnostic radiography in the UK and the MSc Diagnostic Radiography (Pre-registration) course is one of the few offered at masters’ level.
“Full summers of clinical placement allow students to build practical skills and develop the clinical competencies required for professional accreditation.
“The course also allows students to complete a four-week clinical placement anywhere in the world, which is a very exciting opportunity. Graduates from the course have excellent employment prospects and are well trained to begin their career as newly qualified radiographers.”
Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?
“I’ve always liked the idea of studying abroad for a period of time and Edinburgh is such a wonderful city that it seemed like the perfect place to tick off this life goal.
“Scotland in general, and Edinburgh in particular, has a reputation for being a friendly, fun and welcoming place and I’ve found this to be absolutely the case. Edinburgh is now a home from home for me with the added bonus that it is close enough to pop home every now and then for a visit.”
How did you find the workload?
“The workload is challenging but certainly manageable. The lecturers are approachable, supportive and are always willing to help with any areas that that you may be finding challenging.”
How do you think your QMU degree has equipped you with the skills/knowledge to development your career?
“I hoped that the course would allow me to build on my prior knowledge and experience and to develop a career that is interesting, challenging and enjoyable. I see it as both a career change and a career progression. This course in particular is perfect as it allows me to commit full-time for two intense years and progress my career as efficiently as possible.
“I really appreciate that this course not only teaches us what to do but how and why we are doing it. We cover a broad base of anatomy, physiology and physics, with a particular focus on the science and reasoning underpinning each clinical procedure.
“On-site imaging equipment allows us to practice our clinical skills in a controlled environment before heading out on placement.
“Our lecturers are also practicing radiographers and so can offer invaluable advice based on their years of experience. Other modules allow us to focus on the person-centered aspect of a career in healthcare. The emphasis is always on the patient and how we can make their experience with us as positive as possible. We are also taught to engage in research from the outset, which is an essential skill for health care professionals.”
What are your top tips for future MSc Diagnostic Radiography (Pre-registration) students?
“I’d advise prospective students to fully research the career and if possible spend a few days in a radiography department. I had the opportunity to shadow a radiographer in a local hospital before the course and it allowed me to gain a better understanding of the job.
“Once you’ve decided on the career and course, make sure to keep on top of the workload. It’s so much more manageable if you work consistently throughout the semester.
“While I thoroughly enjoyed studying science and undertaking scientific research, I found that I wanted a professional career that involved working with people in a healthcare environment. I would strongly advise anyone else in this position to consider this course as it is a perfect way to build upon previous scientific knowledge and apply it to develop a career in a dynamic, active and caring profession.”
What are your plans after graduating from QMU?
“Short-term, I hope to establish myself as a diagnostic radiographer and expand my knowledge by becoming further qualified in CT, MRI and Reporting Radiography. My long-term goal is to combine my knowledge and experience in genetics, oncology, clinical research and radiography and apply it to cancer research, whilst working as a radiographer.”
"I really appreciate that this course not only teaches us what to do but how and why we are doing it. We cover a broad base of anatomy, physiology and physics, with a particular focus on the science and reasoning underpinning each clinical procedure."