Sammy is in her final year of specialist training to become a consultant interventional radiologist. Discover her route to qualification and how she juggles work, study and raising a family
How did you get your job?
I studied medicine at Imperial College in London between 2000 and 2006, and am currently working as a specialist trainee in clinical radiology. I’m in my final year of sub-specialising in interventional radiology, which is a branch of clinical radiology that specialises in performing endovascular and minimally invasive procedures.
I've taken the scenic route in my training. I completed my foundation training in 2008 (two years of rotations in different specialities). I then completed my core surgical training (again, two years of surgical training) prior to applying for my training post in clinical radiology. Clinical radiology training typically takes five years, but if you choose to specialise in interventional radiology it's six years.
I work part time as I've had two children, so my radiology training will have taken ten years in total.
What's a typical working day like?
A typical day in interventional radiology is busy and exciting. I get to work for 8am and talk to patients before taking them into the treatment room.
We do a wide variety of minimally invasive surgical procedures on both emergency and elective patients. These procedures include opening arteries in the body, treating aneurysms, injecting chemotherapy directly into tumours via small arteries and stopping haemorrhage from bleeding arteries. We carry out sometimes quite complicated procedures on patients through a pinhole or very small incision. I usually leave work at around 6pm.
When we're not doing intervention, we may be reporting CT/MRI scans, performing ultrasounds or attending multidisciplinary meetings.
What do you enjoy most about being a radiologist?
I enjoy working as part of a skilled team of consultants, nurses, radiographers and healthcare assistants, but most of all I enjoy dealing with patients, who are often very unwell. I enjoy doing practical procedures and it's very satisfying when we manage to make patients feel better.
What are the challenges?
It's not an easy job. We work long hours, and the work is at times physically demanding and stressful. There are lots of exams during the early stages of training, which is hard work. I have a family with two young children, and balancing a busy work life can be tough - but definitely manageable and worth the effort.
In what way is your degree relevant?
A degree in medicine is essential to practice in radiology and helps prepare you for the further training needed to become a radiologist.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
I originally decided to train in surgery and subsequently changed to radiology. As an interventional radiologist, I'm using all the skills I learned in surgery in addition to everything I have been taught in interventional radiology.
In a year's time, I'll be applying for consultant roles in interventional radiology.
What's your top tip for completing further medical study?
Postgraduate qualifications in medicine are essential. Be prepared to work hard and pace yourself as the studying never stops. When you choose your speciality, there will be exams relevant to that speciality in order to become a consultant.
I completed postgraduate exams in surgery and radiology, and I am currently studying for a Certificate in Medical Education.
What's your advice to others wanting to become a radiologist?
- If you're keen to do medicine, do it - it's a rewarding career which gives me an enormous sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, even when I'm working in the middle of the night or on weekends. Don't let other people try to put you off.
- There's a branch of radiology to suit everyone - from paediatric radiology to gastrointestinal radiology. Interventional radiology is one of the most rapidly advancing specialties in medicine, and we're always finding minimally invasive ways of doing new procedures.
- It's possible to have a family and be an interventional radiologist. Qualifying may take you a bit longer, but this doesn't matter - all life experiences help along the way.
Find out more
- Learn more about the role of a clinical radiologist.
- Visit the British Society of Interventional Radiology (BSIR) for more information.