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Rupert Maclaren, a mature student in diagnostic radiography tells his story.

2nd March 2020

Becoming a mature student can be financially frightening, yet support is available and the opportunities for progression after qualification are good. Being married with kids, I had extra financial responsibilities to meet, but managed by working part-time and with incredible support from my wife and family. I found various grants and other types of support available. These aren’t always well signposted or easy to access, but you can find them with some research. The government also recently announced that the new grants will be available to student radiographers, which is brilliant.

Going back to university has given me so many opportunities that I didn’t explore the first time around (this is my second degree).

Radiography is an amazing job. The best thing for me is the variety of work and the regular contact with patients. Working anywhere in healthcare can be challenging emotionally and it’s important to have a good support network. I’ve met and worked with some amazing people and I think that’s quite common in healthcare professions – most people are in it because they like working with people and want to make a difference.

Whilst I’d heard it was more unusual to be a male studying in healthcare, I haven’t been particularly aware of any gender imbalance in diagnostic radiography except perhaps on one of my clinical placements. Until then, I had been more conscious of the fact that there were a lot of mature students on my course, which was great. On the placement, I was surprised to find there were only a handful of men in the whole department. This seems to be a trait across many healthcare professions, although less so in diagnostic radiography than others. I was surprised to find some patients calling me ‘doctor’, or assuming I was supervising the female radiographer with me, despite my university uniform and student name badge.

I don’t believe the issue is just about gender though, rather a lack of public awareness of the allied health professions. This is probably not helped by the full range of roles and expertise not being accurately portrayed in the media and some hospital-based TV dramas.

OfS (Office for Students) commissioned research made recommendations for promoting greater gender balance in nursing and healthcare courses.

Read the report https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/male-participation-in-nursing-and-allied-health-higher-education-courses/

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