Student name: Will Woods
Course: BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography
Hometown: Edinburgh
Year of graduation: 2020

After spending three years watching radiographers in action at the hospital he was working at in Melbourne, Will decided that this was the career path for him. On recommendation from his colleagues, Will applied for a place on Queen Margaret University's BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography programme, and the rest is history! Today, he is working as a Band 5 Radiographer at the Borders General Hospital, where he is also the Departmental Student Mentor. This is his QMU student story.

About You 

Why did you choose to study at QMU, and what attracted you to the course? 

Having worked in a hospital in Melbourne, Australia, I had colleagues who had studied this course and recommended Queen Margaret University due to the variety of placement sites and experiences available. I spent three years watching Radiographers in a range of modalities, working to help the public, and felt strongly that this was the job for me.

The Course 

What did you enjoy most about your course? 

The range of ages within the student cohort gave a diverse mixture of life experience and academic ability, which helped with group work and learning. 

How did your lecturers support your learning? 

I had a great deal of support from specific members of staff. Upon arriving at the University, knowing I was dyslexic, I put myself forward for further educational assessment in this regard. Based on my experience in school and my previous degree, I knew that I needed extra time in exams to get what was in my head out and onto the paper. I was assessed by an educational psychologist, organised by the University, and was subsequently offered a wealth of learning support facilities as well as extra time in exams. On top of this, particular Radiography lecturers went out of their way to help not only me but the entire year group in understanding course content; this extended to additional meetings and practical time with them to really get to grips with areas of concern. Course lecturers, past and present, made my experience a very positive one and allowed me to flourish. 

What challenges did you face with the course and/or university life? 

Initially, when I commenced the course, I was terrified at the prospect of the dreaded physics! I spent hours and hours trying to get to grips with it, reading and re-reading everything. I discovered that there were two ways of overcoming this challenge and any others that came up. Firstly, draw everything out. A picture paints a thousand words – if you can draw it out, you can remember it and a lot of the physics, and indeed the anatomy, can be drawn out and labelled. Secondly, learn the topic to the point which you can explain it to someone else in your class. When you are at that point, you have cemented the knowledge so much that you can help someone else understand; you’ve got it! There is nothing more satisfying and comforting than to be in this position as you can be confident in your ability and help others. 

Did you take part in a placement as part of your course? 

I have been on multiple placements in different hospitals, experiencing General X-ray, CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, Theatre and Interventional Radiography. The wealth of knowledge you can receive from radiographers spread across different placement sites is fantastic. My best experience has been at the Borders General Hospital, which is where I work now. The team at the BGH consistently and comprehensively gave me the time to grow, and the clinical skills to enable me to do my job effectively. They treated me as a colleague throughout my time there as a student, and therefore when I was looking to apply for positions, I knew that it was the place I wanted to work. 

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in this course? 

Work hard, and you will do well. Don’t be worried about the physics, or anything else for that matter. Everything is delivered at the right pace, and you will be able to understand it and be confident in your knowledge. When you start the course, things may seem a little daunting. However, each year builds on the last, and this gives you time to revise and revisit learning all the time. If you are studying biology at school, then the human anatomy will overlap with first-year material, which will help your confidence. Anything you can do to visit an X-ray department before applying will help you decide whether this is right for you. It also helps a lot if your personal statement is explicitly focused on diagnostic radiography so you can stand out from the crowd of applicants.

"If I could go back six years and tell myself that I would be where I am now, I would not have believed it was possible. The great thing about this job is that every day is like a school day; you never stop learning, which keeps you fresh, unlike many other jobs."
Will Woods, BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography

Enhancing Student Learning and Personal Development 

Did you win any awards/scholarships/internships that helped you develop skills and experience?

I was fortunate enough to be awarded three prizes for graduating from QMU in 2020, achieving 1st Class Honours in BSc Diagnostic Radiography. The prizes were as follows:

  • Colleen Vaughey Memorial Prize for Clinical Performance in Diagnostic Radiography
  • Fujifilm Medical Systems Award for Academic Excellence 
  • Reporting Radiographers Interest Group Scotland Award for Excellence in Image Interpretation

Life as a Student at QMU 

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student? 

Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Always take opportunities that come your way, especially if they will teach you a new skill. You never know where these experiences will take you on your journey throughout this profession. 

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned at university? 

Always be there for your friends, even if it’s just to sit and listen. During your degree, there will be moments where you need to stick together and support each other. So, knowing you have each other’s back is so important. 

After Graduation 

Can you tell us about your life post-graduation?

I entered the workforce as an Assistant Practitioner (Band 4) at the Borders General Hospital between 3rd and 4th year. I then transitioned to a registered Radiographer (Band 5) in May 2020 in the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a rollercoaster of a first-year qualified; however, working during this challenging time has been a priceless experience and helped me build resilience. In all honesty, working during this time was initially unsettling as there was no vaccine yet developed. I had a certain level of apprehension, not for me, but for the risk of potentially bringing the virus home to my family. Fortunately, being part of a highly dedicated and supportive district general hospital team significantly reduced my fears as we ensured each other’s infection control safety at all times.

Becoming a registered practitioner and gaining my professional qualification personally means a great deal to me. It has enabled me to constantly give back to the community and help others through my work. It is a person-centric and hands-on role with technical skills, and I would highly recommend it as an exciting dedicated profession. I have also taken on the role of Departmental Student Mentor, which I love. This enables me to ensure that students have the best possible experience whilst working in this department. I have created a dedicated Student Board and seek to improve our supervision and mentorship of students constantly. 

Anything else you’d like to share about life at QMU or as a graduate?

If I could go back six years and tell myself that I would be where I am now, I would not have believed it was possible. I did not think I was clever enough to do this job and be in this profession. Now, after just a year and a half of being a Band 5 Radiographer, I am the Departmental Student Mentor, and I have enrolled in postgraduate study with the goal of teaching formally later in life! The great thing about this job is that every day is like a school day; you never stop learning, which keeps you fresh, unlike many other jobs. There is so much out there to learn and progress on to in advanced practice. So, as a graduate and Band 5 Radiographer, I would encourage you to have faith in your aspirations. You CAN do anything if you apply yourself, so just go for it! 

[Published August 2021]