What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up?
I always dreamt that one day I would become a diagnostic radiographer. I first learned about the role, aged 10, when I went to the hospital with my mother after she had broken her leg.
I was fascinated by the radiographers positioning her and then going behind a screen to take pictures. I achieved my dream, and then specialised in interventional radiography.
Why did you change to interventional radiography?
I find it very satisfying to be able to provide minimally invasive treatments to improve the quality of life and lifespan of patients. It is an exciting career, very adventurous, and as a team, we work with patients from diagnosis to treatment.
Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?
We conduct radiology-guided, invasive non-vascular procedures on both in-patients and out-patients, including biopsies, drainages, insertions of ureteric stents (to treat obstructions in the urethra such as kidney stones), gastrostomies (tube inserted into the stomach for artificial feeding), and nephrostomies (tube inserted to drain urine from the kidney).
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
To be a competent radiographer you need excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to explain procedures to patients. You also need to be empathetic, have a caring disposition, the ability to remain calm under pressure, and to be able to work as part of a team.
In terms of technical skills, radiologists have to be able to interpret data so need attention to detail and good observational, decision-making, problem-solving and analytical skills.
Emotional intelligence is also very important, as radiologists, radiographers and nurses have to cope with and manage distressing situations.
What are the main 3 factors that make you frustrated at work?
Inadequate patient preparation. Patients need clerking (patient data input into records), to have bloods taken, to be nil by mouth, and to have a cannula inserted before they arrive in our department.
Patient cancellations, which can be due to inadequate patient preparation or other issues, such as the patient having a particular medical condition or high blood pressure, blood-thinning medication not having been stopped, or blood tests showing a high INR (International Normalised Ratio above 1.5).
Patient waiting lists. Poor communication between referrer and patient, or patient and the department they are referred to, increases waiting times for patients unnecessarily.
Did you find it challenging moving to the UK?
Moving to a different country is very challenging because of cultural differences, being part of a minority group, fighting to be accepted, homesickness, etc. Learning about new cultures and how to fit in was the hardest bit.
I came from a country where I was part of the majority cultural group to the UK where I was part of a minority group. I was young when I arrived and I found adapting to these cultural differences very overwhelming, and struggled with stress and depression.
What 3 factors make you skip into work?
Giving my patients the best care/service I am able to.
My team, we have good team morale.
Knowing my managers supports me.
Why would you recommend your career to a young person or one of your children?
Radiography is a very rewarding career. If you are passionate about serving patients from diagnosis to treatment then radiography is a career to consider. There are lots of jobs on offer in the UK and there is also the opportunity to move overseas and find work.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient?
Eppie, you have got a great smile, keep smiling, it's medicinal to many troubled souls.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a work colleague?
Continue to believe in yourself, you are very enthusiastic and the right people will continue to appreciate you.
If you could change three things about the environment you work in, what would they be and why?
Create safe environments for staff to speak up in confidence – places where they feel they will be supported.
Scheduling that allows flexible shift patterns as this will improve staff’s work-life balance, and boost their engagement and productivity.
Practise open effective communication as it builds trust between employee, employer and patients. It also increases patient satisfaction, reduces unnecessary conflicts, and builds and maintains working relationships
What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues?
I hope my positive influence on team morale, being consistently dependable, meeting my commitments and leading by example.
What do you do to relax/de-stress?
I love going to church, and listening to gospel music. I particularly enjoy listening to gospel music when walking and surrounded by nature.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother, she is an unsung heroine, she is the strongest person I have ever met and where I derived my resilience from. My mother was orphaned at nine years old. She had three older brothers and one younger brother who she ended up caring for – taking on the role of a mother when she was still a child herself.
When she had her own children, she worked hard and inspired us to do better in our education. All seven of my mothers’ children have done very well in their careers – all are professionals.
My mother has five daughters and two sons, her twentieth grandchild is expected in December, and she has two great grandchildren so far.
Your most treasured possession and why?
Although I am tempted to say my radiography degree, it is creating great memories with my loved ones. Losing my dad to covid-19 made me cherish every moment even more.
Where or when are you happiest and why?
When I am with loved ones – be they family, friends, or colleagues – because it gives me a sense of belonging.
On a typical day, what do you eat for lunch, where and how long is your break?
I always carry leftovers such as rice, which I eat in our staff room during my 30-minute break.
What is the most dangerous situation you have ever found yourself in?
In 2002 my car caught fire as I was driving home from work in south-east London. My two-month-old baby was in the car because I had just picked him up from my sister who had been looking after him while I was at work.
I tried to open the doors, but every door was auto locked and I was very frightened. I started hitting the window and some men passing by helped rescue us. We then watched in horror as the car went up in flames.
Eppie was born in a small village in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK aged 19. After leaving school, Eppie studied data processing management, and then worked in hospitality and dressmaking. None of these roles gave her the job satisfaction she craved, so she began working as a healthcare assistant in nursing homes and hospitals.
The healthcare environment revived her earlier dream to be a diagnostic radiographer and she began reading about radiography and physics. Twenty-two years after first seeing radiography in action, Eppie began studying diagnostic radiography at Salford University. She graduated in 2009 at the age of 35 and took a post as a diagnostic radiographer at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
She then trained for a further two years in interventional radiology in order to be able to treat rather than diagnose patients. Eppie has been clinical lead interventional radiographer at Manchester NHS Foundation Trust since 2022.