Zena Paterson: "Put your head above the parapet to get noticed"

I decided to study at LSBU because it offered a course which I could study concurrently with my job as a radiology assistant. I loved the idea of studying in central London and LSBU is easily accessible from Waterloo.

All the lecturers were great but in particular, Pete Keane, who alleviated my fears of studying radiation physics, and with extra lessons and support from lecturers Jerry Hughes and Shabir Khan, I achieved 82% in my first-year radiation sciences exam!

I was in-service whilst I studied, meaning I was employed by the NHS and my managers had to agree to release me for study. So, when the full-time students were on holiday, I was working in a busy radiology department and having to study and write essays in the evenings. I’m also a mum but my children are 24 and 14 years old, but they are invaluable for technological assistance.

My dream is becoming a reality

I was lucky in that I was already in NHS employment; in fact, my department has supported me to undertake further study to complete the BSc in Diagnostic Radiography, which I started in September 2020.  The DipHe qualified me to be an Assistant Practitioner in Radiography, and on completion of the final year I will be a registered radiographer. I never supposed that would be possible, but with the support of my LSBU lecturers and my managers, my dream is becoming a reality.

To me, career satisfaction is working hard to achieve my goals and reaping the benefits. Working in a great NHS hospital and constantly expanding my knowledge, I am surrounded by people willing to pass their knowledge to me. I am constantly motivated by seeing what others have achieved and the opportunities available to me. In radiology, there are so many paths that you can go down, safe in the knowledge that you will receive ongoing training and support.

Put your head above the parapet to get noticed

My family and friends are a constant source of support and encouragement to me. My husband and eldest daughter have both been to university and heavily influenced me to go to as a mature student in my 40s. My best friend became an ambulance technician as a second career, inspiring me to retrain. I had been a hairdresser for 25 years and many people tried to discourage me from going to university. At times I doubted my own ability, but my manager was instrumental in supporting me. She helped me see a way through any issues I might have had. Her support and encouragement were unwavering. The best piece of advice I received from my manager was to "put my head above the parapet to get noticed", and it worked time and time again.

The last few months of my course and clinical placement were interrupted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, I was required to shield and was seriously worried about how this would have an on me finishing the course. It was stressful after all the hard work I had put in, but thanks to the wonders of technology, exams took place online and I was able to complete the course. Sadly, we had no graduation ceremony, which was a little upsetting, but I graduated with a Diploma of Higher Education with Merit in Diagnostic Imaging.

Just do your best

I am proud to be an LSBU alumna and a current student, and I wouldn't hesitate to return to LSBU for postgraduate study.

My biggest fears, as they are more many people, are those of being inadequate, but, as we are all following our own individual paths through life, we should compare ourselves to each other and focus on living our lives to the best of our ability.

My advice to both prospective and current LSBU students would be don’t give up. Even when you think something isn't possible or you have reached your limits. There will always be someone to shine a guiding light for you.

To the class of 2020, we made it! We graduated during a global pandemic, so I think that makes us unique.


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