Work experience is a valuable way of encouraging people to consider a career in the NHS. In the first of a series of work experience diaries, we meet Cara, aged 17, a work experience student at Southampton General Hospital's radiography department

Monday

On my first day, I was welcomed by a radiographer who told me about the schedule they had arranged for me. My first stop was accident and emergency. I was so excited to see how x-rays are done. As well as seeing patients with minor injuries, I witnessed an x-ray of a man who had had several knee operations. It was remarkable to see how his knee had been rebuilt.

The radiographer explained how bones break while showing me how the equipment works and why the positioning of a patient is so important during an x-ray. Today has been really exciting, interesting and worthwhile.

Tuesday

I spent today in the cardiac department. At the start of the day, I had no idea what this meant.

As soon as I got there, I was told I was going into theatre where a 10-month-old baby was having keyhole surgery. I saw the echo of the baby's heart and then watched as contrast dye was injected through a cannula in the arm. This allowed the radiographer to detect and take pictures of any abnormalities in the heart.

Today was truly amazing. I feel honoured to have witnessed something so incredible and to have worked with such a wide range of skilled practitioners. I learned so much.

Wednesday

When I arrived at the x-ray department, I was told I would be in paediatrics, which was very exciting. I watched patients have barium swallows, which is an x-ray test where you drink a liquid used to obtain pictures of the upper gut. It was incredible to see the inside of a body on a screen.

I also watched ultrasounds on children, although I didn't really know what I was looking at at first. It looked like a fuzzy black and white mess! However, once the pictures were explained to me, they started to make more sense.

Thursday

Today I was in CT scanning, which is like a cross between ultrasound and x-ray. It is basically a body scanner where all the body can be viewed in one scan. However, the machine slices the images up into very small segments to see inside the body.

Every time a scan took place, it was explained to me in detail. I was also shown how to connect the contrast dye tube onto the patient's cannula. One patient allowed me to feel their arm while the dye was being injected. It was an unbelievable feeling.

All the staff were really nice. They quizzed me about the day and I even managed to answer a few of their questions. I was really proud of myself and it made my previous learning worthwhile.

Friday

For the last day of my placement, I was in endoscopy. These are not particularly pleasant procedures for the patients. However, it was realty interesting to see. I was working with two student radiographers, who were really enthusiastic and happy to share their knowledge of their course with me.

I had a really great week thanks to the staff in radiography. Throughout my placement, I saw and learned much more than expected and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. I could not have asked for a better week and the experience has definitely helped me with my career choices.

As part of its Step into the NHS programme, NHS Employers is supporting trusts by helping them set up work experience programmes. Further information is available at www.nhsemployers.org