A day in the life of a placement student

A day in the life of a placement student


My name is Nick and I’m in my final year of a Bachelor of Medication Radiation Science at CSU. I’m currently on clinical placement working with a private radiology company based in Canberra.

There really is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day during clinical placement. One moment you can be dealing with a simple patient presenting with a common pathology, and the next you’ll be thrown into a trauma case, confronted with a patient fighting for their life. No two days are ever quite the same on placement, but here’s one of them.

6:30am: I wake to the sound of a blaring alarm. A new day awaits as a radiography placement student.

It’s a typical Winter morning in Canberra. The streets are still lined with autumn colours and the leaves are crunchy under foot. Armed with the essentials, I brace myself for a new day; a backpack for snacking and a bucket of cold water for defrosting my windscreen.

8:15am: I arrive at my placement site. My morning routine involves turning on all the x-ray equipment and preparing for a full day of patients. A warm-up routine is performed on the x-ray unit by using a series of small exposures to warm the x-ray tube to full exposure.

8:30am: The first patient of the day arrives. I call the patient through to the x-ray room. Standard procedure for all patients begins with taking a clinical history and checking it correlates to the referral. This patient has been suffering from pneumonia, and a chest x-ray is required to check for any resolution. When the radiologist writes the report for the patient, he will refer to the patient’s old images to make a comparison.

11am: Fast forward through this morning’s back-to-back patient bookings to my 11 o’clock patient. The next patient arrives with a referral requesting a nasal bones imaging series. Clinical history states that the patient fell and landed on their face last weekend. Verbal history indicates that they may also be suffering from a case of mild amnesia and embarrassment. I’d say that hangover would have hit pretty hard the next morning. Unfortunately for this patient, the diagnosis is an un-displaced fracture of the nasal bone.

2pm: Hysterical screams can be heard from the waiting room. I’m filled with fear as I approach the waiting room to call my next patient through. Lo and behold the screaming 18-month old is my next patient. I call the patient and her mother through to the x-ray room. The patient had only been walking for a month, and mum was unsure if the she had developed a limp or was trying to dance. I liaised with the radiologist, as radiation exposure should be minimised for all patients, especially babies and children. The radiologist agreed that there may be cause for concern and the imaging should go ahead. Easier said than done. Who would have thought that something so little was capable of making so much noise?! Massive shout out to mum, x-rays were only made possible by a caring yet firm hold.

5pm: Time to clean up and shut down. The end of the day whips around pretty fast and home time is a welcomed reward after a busy day.

5:30pm: I search far and wide to find the motivation to fit in an evening run into my day. Today the motivation was found, but this isn’t always the case! A sneaky 5km just about exhausts all of my remaining energy. A quick cook up for dinner and it won’t be long until I crawl into bed to do it all again tomorrow!

This is merely a snippet of a single day on placement, there really is so much learning and development packed into every day. Every day is full on and I’ve found placement to be an invaluable tool in my progression through my degree.

By Nick Dowler

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