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Work Experience - Heath Lodge Clinic

Grace Leach spent her work experience placement at Heath Lodge Clinic in Knowle, Solihull.  A private radiography clinic specialising in MRI scans and X-rays, she chose to go there because she is considering a career in the medical profession.  Here she tells us about her experience.

I chose Heath Lodge Clinic because I am considering a career in the medical profession that is not a doctor, and radiography is a really good option as you still get to spend time helping patients; it’s just a slightly different role from being a doctor.

I spent most of my time in the MRI unit observing what goes on there. They have an open MRI scanner, which is different from one you would see at a hospital as it is shorter and wider. This makes it less like a tunnel, allowing the unit to specialise in the treatment of claustrophobic patients. I observed the process of positioning the patient on the scanner correctly, and applying a special piece of apparatus called a coil to the specific part of the body being scanned, for example, the knee. This helps to hold the patient in position, as even the slightest movement will result in a blurry image that is of no use.

The average MRI scan takes about 20 minutes, as there are lots of small separate scans at different angles. I observed the radiographer adjusting the scans from her computer, and the MRI scanner moved accordingly. It was really interesting learning about all of the different types of scan you have to apply to each area, and how you can block out interference from moving parts of the body such as the heart and main arteries, as they would give a blurry image.

As well as spending time in the MRI unit I got to observe various different x-rays, including a chest, knee, foot and pelvis. One of the Senior Doctors explained briefly how all the different types of scan work and why they are used. As a radiographer you are taught how to perform all kinds of scans, so apart from x-ray and MRI scans there are CT scans, ultrasound scans, x-ray image intensifiers and many others. This was really useful as it helped me understand why you need so many types of scan and what makes them different.

One of the parts of the week I found most interesting was observing a facet joint injection of a lumbar spine. These injections relieve persistent lower back pain and sciatica, and are normally very long lasting. Because the injections are so strong and deep into the vertebrae it is important to make sure they are being applied to the correct place for that patient, and so an image intensifier is used. This piece of equipment uses x-rays so is ionising, but in smaller doses of radiation so is less harmful, and can be used to take both still images and videos. This aspect of radiography is known as interventional radiography, and you would have to specialise in it before you are allowed to perform the scans. I definitely found this the most useful because I am considering specialising in interventional radiography, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to learn more about it.

Overall I really enjoyed my work experience placement at Heath Lodge, and it has definitely made me want to become a radiographer. I didn’t know much about radiography before my placement, but now I feel I know a lot more about the career and what it entails. I would definitely recommend this placement to anyone considering a medical profession – there are lots of other career options besides medicine!