Alumnus profile: Ziyad Al-Dibouni
What year did you graduate?
I graduated in 2018.
What is your current role?
My current role is a diagnostic radiographer. My duties include being CPD lead, Non-Medical Referrer coordinator as well as providing PACS support. I have recently accepted a new job as a research radiographer which I am looking forward to starting.
How did you get into your current role?
I used to work as radiographic department assistant at the department I am currently working at. It was here where I really gained my understanding of patient care and what radiography had to offer and so I was encouraged to do the radiography course. I got offered the job to work in my department at the end of my second year at university after interviewing for it so it was a relief not worrying about applying for jobs during my final year.
What do you enjoy about your role?
Meeting new people, whether colleagues or patients. But I find I enjoy it the most when I am involved in audits or quality improvement projects because it makes me feel like I am contributing to improving services and making a difference to not only patients experiences but to the NHS as well.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak changed the way you work?
Covid-19 has had an impact in the way the department is run and what services are being provided, with the biggest challenges being keeping up-to-date with new information, and new systems being put in place, as they’re ever changing. Additionally, as I also suffer with Crohn’s Disease it has made me extra cautious in the way I approach patients, ensuring I have the appropriate PPE and wash my hands and clean the room/equipment thoroughly before the next use. I don’t think it’s changed the way I interact with patients, as I still do my best to provide them with the best type of care they deserve as well as being friendly with them, despite it being hard for them not to see you smile because of the face mask.
What is the biggest challenge about this new way of working, and what has helped overcome this?
I think the biggest challenge is the fear of the unknown. There is some anxiety that every patient you meet could be asymptomatic and a potential COVID-19 carrier and so one of the ways to help ease that anxiety is doing your best to follow the infection control guidelines that are in place already such as washing hands and maintaining social distancing as best as possible. I think the way in which everyone in the department is supporting each other is making such a huge difference. It can get overwhelming sometimes working in healthcare but knowing your colleagues are there to support you makes a huge difference.
How are you working to tackle the outbreak in your role?
With every patient I encounter, I ensure I am wearing the appropriate PPE for my own safety as well as the safety of my patients. I think one of the important things we can do as healthcare professionals is ‘put on a brave face’ for the patients we do see. Most of them that need their imaging are often scared and so showing them that we are taking this seriously, and ensuring their safety is put first, can be reassuring for them.
How did the experience and skills gained at St George’s help prepare you for the current situation?
I think one of the greatest things about St George’s is the placements you go on. They provide you with variety in terms of equipment used and workload experienced. It makes you quickly adaptable to ever changing environments which is such an important trait to have in radiography especially now during this COVID-19 situation.
What helps you stay positive during this challenging time?
Support from family and friends really helps, especially when they check in on your day at work. It can be hard to switch off when you get home after a challenging day at the hospital, but it helps when your friends and family talk to you about non-Covid topics. This helps brings a bit of normality to your life, even just briefly.
Do you have any advice or a message to others working on the front line to keep the public safe?
Everyone on the frontline is doing such a fantastic job and aside from saying keep it up, I hope all my NHS and frontline colleagues stay safe. The things we see and go through are never easy and it can feel relentless at times so remember it’s OK not to be OK and it’s important to talk about it for your own mental health.
What advice would you give to current students who may be about to enter the workplace, or are volunteering, during the outbreak?
Remember to look after yourself. If there is something you feel uncomfortable about doing or not fully trained to do speak up. Your safety is also a priority and the last thing you want to do is put yourself in danger or in a difficult situation that you haven’t been properly trained/prepared for especially when patient safety could be compromised.