Reflections from our 2020 scholarship awardees

(Added as they become available)

Each year ACEN awards eight $1500 scholarships to provide financial support for students undertaking a WIL placement in a regional or remote area of Australia as part of their university studies. Upon completion of the placement recipients are required to provide a reflection of the WIL experience which should

  • Identify the personal growth and skill development as a result of the WIL placement
  • How the ACEN Scholarship supported the recipient’s career aspirations
  • Evidence of the ability to think critically and question biases and assumptions

Medical Imaging WIL

I have undertaken many weeks of placement during my university degree and each one had provided me with many new skills and perspectives. This last placement was in the rural town of Dubbo New South Wales, it was within a private practice that serviced people from many kilometres away. This was a 12-week placement and occurred during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a big change in how the health industry functioned. I needed to change my techniques and my approach to patients in order to keep us safe and still get the diagnostic images needed. Radiography requires a lot of communication which can be difficult while wearing masks but allowed to me develop my communication skills. This placement saw me taking a more independent role and growing as a radiographer, student and long-term health provider. It was difficult at times being isolated and not being able to return to my hometown on weekends, but it did help me to focus on study and improving where I could.

Within 2 years I was required to undergo 44 weeks of fulltime placement outside of Canberra, this made it hard financially to save and still be able to afford all placement costs and some outings. This ACEN scholarship helped with the cost of vaccinations needed for healthcare work, helped with accommodation/travel associated with placement and allowed me to explore a part of NSW I had never been to. To ensure that I marked off all competencies needed for the degree I was required to spend a week in Orange during my Dubbo placement, this scholarship helped me to achieve this goal.

I enjoy rural placements, partly because of the change of scenery but also the diversity in patients and peers. I have found that you are able to get more hands-on experience and greater opportunity to control how and what you learn. In bigger areas it can be too busy, and you are not afforded much time to expand your knowledge of the different imaging modalities. During this placement I was able to sit in on mammogram scans, magnetic resonance imaging scans, and change locations within the same company to take images during theatre cases. I had many opportunities to discuss with visiting doctors and my superiors and ask all the questions I needed to.
It is generally assumed that within private practice that the diversity of patient’s is minimal, this rural private practice has many different people coming through the doors. There were days with patient’s with major injuries entering that did not want to go to the hospital because of the long wait times. There were also sad cases of finding cancer and brain tumours, these cases provided me with a lot of growth as a person and helped me to work with patients being as caring as possible. This practice also receives special patients from the Zoo, furry and scaly ones, it helped me to remove my stigma of private practice. A very diverse patient range requires a lot of adaption, along with evidence-based practice and critical thinking to change techniques and radiation dosages to fit what you are imaging. Changing from paediatric to adult or koala means that continuing to learn and adapt is very needed.

I learnt a lot from my rural placement that I will never forget, it is one of my most memorable experiences. I had a great team to surround me and guide me through the hard times of COVID-19, the ACEN scholarship helped me greatly and I very much appreciate it. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had and the skills I have gained along the way.