Vanesa priestley shaw

Vanessa Priestley-Shaw

I am a specialist radiographer working in breast imaging within the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. My job role is shared between the Breast Screening Service and the Leeds Breast Clinic where we provide imaging and intervention services. I undertake mammographic imaging of patients attending these services and I also assist with a wide variety of image-guided diagnostic tests. My job is busy, varied, interesting and at times challenging; both practically and emotionally, but I love what I do.

I choose to study Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Leeds as my Trust has close connections with the university and as a Leeds graduate myself I was particularly happy to return to the familiar surroundings of the university.

The elements I enjoyed the most about studying at Leeds were the good facilities, enthusiastic lecturers and the convenient and familiar location.

I found the introduction to image interpretation (studied as part of the Mammographic Technique module) quite a mental challenge. Mammographic images are very difficult to read due to the nature of the tissue composition. It takes time and experience to be able to identify the subtle changes that may indicate a breast abnormality. Whilst I will not be a film reader in my current role, a good understanding of the abnormalities that are found in breast tissue is required. This is an area I would like to explore further in my future career.

The module I found the most interesting was Mammographic technique, for the above reasons and because this incorporated such a wide range of topics from communication skills to practical advice and image interpretation.

Some of the women I meet could be about to face the most difficult time in their life; a potential breast cancer diagnosis. I feel that I can make a real difference to their experience of the NHS and hopefully improve their journey in a small way. I love my job, I get to meet new, different and fascinating people every day and I find it very rewarding.

I found the majority of my sessions at the university relevant and very informative. The most important aspect is that all lecturers were enthusiastic and passionate about their own specialisms and great advocates for the University.

Lecturers provided support, advice and guidance through encouragement of discussions and participation within the lecturer/seminar environment. Lecturers were available to discuss concerns or assessments where practical.

The advice I would give to students considering studying Diagnostic Imaging at Leeds is it is an academic course which (in my case) was backed up by practical hands-on experience at my place of work which helped to support my development as a specialist radiographer.