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Coffee Break with Radiographer Andrea McGardle

16th December 2022

Radiographer Andrea McGardle, who works at the Mater Hospital, tells us about her role:

What do you do and why do you do it?

As a Band 7 radiographer and practice educator my time is split between clinical duties and educating the university students on placement. I also have various roles within my department including safeguarding lead, domestic abuse support officer and training coordinator. My clinical role specialises in Computed Tomography and this is where I spend most of my time. This involves scanning, cannulation, mentoring junior staff and of course providing excellent care to our patients/ service users. I also rotate through the general department and Emergency Department performing plain x-rays on various service users including inpatients, emergency, outpatients and GP patients. I work various shift patterns including night shifts.

My role as practice educator involves mentoring, teaching, assessing and looking after the pastoral needs of our future radiographers. I love my job and this is ultimately why I do what I do.

How do patients benefit from what you do?

Radiographer play a significant role in shaping the outcome for our patients. Our accuracy in positioning and the images we achieve allow the radiologists to give a conclusive report. This in turn ensures that the patients receive the service and treatment that they require. By having a high sense of patient care we also can make the process as easy as possible for our patients.

Tell us about a typical day at work?

 Each day is very different. I may be in the scanner where my day starts by preparing equipment and checking patients’ bloods/ history or starting the day teaching and answering questions from the students. My busiest days are when I have a clinical role. Several patients pass through my hands and I not only scan or ‘push the button’ but I am responsible for liaising with medical staff regarding patients, performing clerical duties, justifying exposure to radiation, using my skills to achieve accurate and diagnostic images and ensuring the patients experience a friendly and professional radiographer.

If one of your patients or students was sitting with you right now what is the best piece of advice you could give them?

Patients – Always take each step at a time. A lot of our patient’s visiting the scanner are worried about initial diagnosis and or the next part of their journey. It can be overwhelming.

Students – To always remember that it is a privilege to be a radiographer and to be working with the public. It isn’t always easy but always remember all patients should be valued and we aspire to give them our best.

Tell us about the satisfaction you get from your job?

I love people and the differences we all have. I love to listen to their stories and concerns and for the short time I am with them try to make them feel that they are valued and they leave a little bit happier. The pastoral side of my job is just as important as the clinical side. I get some satisfaction from the fact that I have the privilege to listen. I also get great satisfaction from producing good quality images. We train for years to do carry out this role and it is satisfying to see that the skills are making a difference to someone’s journey. I enjoy working alongside previous students and recognising how far they have come and how I helped them on their way.

Tell us a little about your life outside of work?

I am a wife and a mum to four beautiful daughters. I am a Christian and volunteer with Compassion Belfast. I spend time getting to know people and support those facing homeliness, additions and financial struggles. When I have the time (or energy!) I enjoy meeting friends for coffee and going for long walks.