The College of Radiographers Overseas Placement Fund was established by a generous donation in 1998; this was matched by the organisation.
The Overseas Placement Fund is managed by the College of Radiographers Board of Trustees and a number of radiography placements in developing countries have been supported by the fund over the years.
The Society and College of Radiographers enjoys a very high standing and reputation in the world of radiography internationally.
A professional interest in the promotion of radiography in developing countries has been a feature of the organisation's work for many years. A number of individual radiographers have taken an interest in this area and this has often resulted in periods of working overseas.
The fund is administered under an arrangement with RAD-Aid, the international non-profit organisation for diagnostic imaging professionals. To find out more about RAD-Aid and to register, click here. Applications will be considered from radiographers who demonstrate the following criteria:
My Ethiopian experience
A unique shared learning opportunity
Andrew Pellew-Nabbs, vascular ultrasound specialist at Independent Vascular Services Ltd and Warrington & Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, travelled to Ethiopia as a recipient of a RAD-AID overseas placement award. He reports on his experiences.
I arrived in Ethiopia in November 2018 where I joined a five-member, multi-disciplinary team at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, to support the training and education of radiology.
Black Lion Hospital is one of five government hospitals in Addis Ababa, who collectively serve a population of around 3million people. Black Lion itself sees around 300,000 to 400,000 patients a year, and radiology is key to diagnosis and management for a significant number of these.
I found myself amongst other like-minded individuals all keen to share their knowledge for the benefit of the residents and patients, and our combined skillset covered vascular ultrasound; general radiography, small parts and MSK ultrasound; CT; x-ray; MRI and medical physics.
Ultrasound is a fundamental component of the radiology setup at Black Lion, with daily general, paediatric, small parts, vascular and obstetric sessions and developing musculo-skeletal and breast imaging.
On my first day at the hospital, I was introduced to the residents on their ultrasound rotation, and spent most of my time with the four to five residents who were on a four-week rotation through vascular ultrasound. They were a warm, and welcoming bunch and we immediately found plenty to talk about. This positive start continued throughout my trip, and we developed a great relationship with the whole department taking me into the fold and making me feel like one of the team.
My project objectives were to provide vascular ultrasound training and support to the residents as required but, ultimately, this was a truly reciprocal experience where I learnt as much as I was able to teach. The residents were so knowledgeable and fantastic teachers, and so generous in the giving of their time, and allowing me to watch scans that I would never have the opportunity to see in my normal clinical practice in the UK.
They were always willing to talk me through anatomy and scanning techniques for these scans, and our shared learning in our respective areas of expertise led to a truly open and boundary-less pattern of teaching and learning in both directions.
The residents also worked closely with one another. With three to four residents often present in the same scan, they would routinely help each other to optimise images and exchange advice and knowledge in helping to come to a clinical diagnosis. I’d never seen training done this way, having mostly only ever seen 1:1 training at the bedside. It seemed to me to be a very useful way of pooling everyone’s collective experience to empower faster learning; a very effective tool that enabled these residents to learn complex radiology techniques in a short space of time.
The value of collaborative learning, unhindered by the traditional departmental territoriality we sometimes see, was clear and has inspired me to try to find new ways of working more closely with all of our radiology colleagues back in the UK and further afield. This could only be of benefit to our patients, my vascular ultrasound team and our wider radiology colleagues.
I had the opportunity to travel into the countryside with a few of my colleagues and see some of Ethiopia’s wonderful landscapes and communities. We travelled to Debre Libanos, a beautiful 13th century monastery that has been re-built several times in its history and boasts some of the most beautiful stained glass biblical depictions. From there, we travelled across to the Jemma Valley and Jemma River, a tributary of the Blue Nile. The views across the 1000m-drop gorge were breath-aking!
We found time to also visit the National Museum of Ethiopia, where the famous Lucy is kept: a 400million year old Austolapitihcus skeleton, of whom Ethiopians are rightly proud.
In my second week, I gave a series of lectures to the residents which led to some fascinating discussion and Q&A sessions. I was often asked to demonstrate techniques I had described in my lectures once we were back in the ultrasound department, and it was a pleasure to be able to translate theory into practice and watch this carried through into scans which I then observed later.
During my brief time with the team, I observed some of the most interesting and challenging pathologies of my career so far, including paranganglioma, arterio-venous fistulae secondary to trauma, congenital venous malformations, and much more. In addition to the vascular ultrasound with which I’m familiar, were many other fascinating paediatric, MSK and general US scans to get involved with.
It really was a wonderful opportunity to broaden my scanning and reporting experience, and this experience was made all the more special through the diversity of the scans I was able to see, most of which I would never normally have the opportunity to be a part of.
Mostly though, it was the open-hearted friendliness of the residents; the comradery and passion for the project shared amongst our team and the wonderful interactions I had with the patients and staff of Black Lion Hospital that made this an unforgettable experience of which I will always be proud to have been a part.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in radiology advancement and education to get involved with RAD-AID, to volunteer some time if possible and take part in a project that could really enhance your professional development and offer something completely different!
RAD-AID is an international, non-profit organisation whose mission is to optimise access to medical imaging and radiology in resource-limited regions of the world. It achieves this ambition through the help of volunteers who specialise in imaging across the radiology spectrum, and who give their time to contribute to RAD-AID’s work in established projects across the globe.
My thanks go out to the residents and staff of the Black Lion Hospital; to Dr Susan Sotardi for her expert oversight of the Ethiopia programme, organisation of the trip and valuable support; the College of Radiographers for the financial support that enabled my trip and, in particular, professional officer Sean Henderson-Kelly for his help and advice.
Finally, to the staff and volunteers of RAD-AID, for doing what they do and continuing to advocate and work tirelessly for the promotion of radiology across the world.