Karen Thompson ImageHi, I am Karen and started at Darent Valley Hospital in September 2000 as a part time clerical officer in the Radiology Department. This was my first job in admin. I left school at 16, went to college to become a hairdresser, which I did until I had my children. I then stayed at home to look after the children and registered as a childminder to help our finances, I also worked in the Disney Store for a while!

As the children grew up I knew I didn’t want to go back to hairdressing, so we purchased a computer and I took evening classes to learn about the different programmes eg Word, Excel etc. This led me to apply for the clerical role in Radiology, which I successfully secured and where I became extremely interested in radiology.

Due to my ongoing interest, my manager gave me some information about a part time radiographer course being run at South Bank University (SBU). You needed to be a Radiology Department Assistant (RDA), so I applied to be a RDA at DVH and was successful in getting both the RDA role and being accepted by SBU. During my radiographer course, I worked 3 days a week as an RDA and went to SBU 2 days a week.

The great news is that in 2008 I qualified as a Radiographer and I haven't looked back since! I thoroughly enjoy my job and the people I work with. I will always be grateful to DVH for the opportunity it has given me and that I now have the job I love. I'm now a Senior Radiographer!

Beatrix ImageHi, I am Beatrix, I was born in Germany but came over to the UK as a 4-year old. I was fully educated here in the UK and left school with O-levels and A-levels (mainly in science subjects) to attend a secretarial college with the aim of being a PA with shorthand and typing skills. I can’t say I really enjoyed being at a secretarial college but I came out with respectable shorthand and typing speeds plus a few other commercial skills. Since then I have done all kinds of admin jobs from clerical officer, secretary, PA, Administrator, Office Manager, and various rolls in personnel. IT skills were added along the way.

At the age of 48, I've had enough of office work and saw an advert for a Radiographer. I followed this up, went on an open day, applied and was accepted into University to become a Radiographer. The only formal education I had done between School and University was a 2 year on-line Microsoft course, so it was quite a challenge to start learning all over again.

I loved the experience of being in University with all its new challenges of learning and placement work. One of the benefits of this course – which I didn’t expect – was that it gave me so much confidence in English language skills. I had always felt, because English wasn’t my first language, that my written languages skills were inadequate, but I came out of University with a very good degree!

I joined QMS as a qualified Radiographer when it was still a general district hospital and thoroughly enjoyed my job. At that time, we did on-call nights, working solo, to service the hospital and A/E. Working nights was not easy.

Within two years, I had become the QMS PACS Manager and this brought together all my pre-university admin and IT skills with my new skills. Radiography and working at QMS was definitely a great answer to prayer, I have simply loved the job.

Some of my highlights and lows – the smile when you have explained an exam to a patient with learning disabilities, the little peck on the cheek as a 'thank you' from an elderly patient, the sadness to see something not nice on an x-ray for a young person, the sadness of hearing an elderly patient with a broken hip saying they didn’t want to live any more, the joy of being thanked when I was able to help another hospital find out where images were taken for a difficult patient, the joy of helping a Radiologist sort out a situation. I could go on...

Would I recommend a career change like this to someone else? Yes, most definitely. If I can do it, anyone else can. It just takes a lot of hard work, diligence and determination.