In high school I knew early on what I wanted to do when I left school. I understood that is was essential to attend university, the necessary school subjects, and that I would have to work incredibly hard. Most of my class mates had no idea of what they wanted to do (some still don't). My path to becoming a radiographer wasn't going to be a walk in the park but I knew that was the direction I was headed.
As a young girl, like most, I aspired to be a ballerina. As I grew up I considered working with animals, deciding on either a zoo keeper or a pet shop owner. Once I realized I would have to clean out the animal droppings I left those ideas behind, moving on to greater ambitions. I had the notion to be a music composer before realizing the melodies I wrote were just a mish-mash of notes making a semblance of music. Eventually I realized that my real interest lay in science except that I couldn't work out what direction to take. Then, in year 10, my first year of physics, I discovered my direction.
The sensation was like being hit in the face by a baseball bat… the one I had been holding all along without realizing it. In the physics classroom I noticed a poster on the wall: 'Careers in Physics' or some such. My eyes scanned the shiny paper indifferently then rested on the word 'radiography'. I stared at the word before forcing my eyes to continue scanning. Soon I realized that my eyes continued to be drawn back to that word. That is when I knew and I haven't left that path since.
When I look back I now see the signs. As a young child I had a human anatomy book for kids, one with see-through pages that layered the organs, muscles, blood vessels and bones. I remember looking over that book multiple times as a child. I would watch ER on TV with my parents. I'm surprised my parents never realized how interested I was in the human body.
One of my main reasons for deciding on radiography is my respect for medical professionals, especially doctors. The task doctors have in diagnosing patients and then healing them, no matter what speciality they are part of, takes extraordinary skill and dedication. You need to be a special person to be able to cope with the pressure. I didn't chose medicine since I do not think I have the patience nor the ability to cope under such stressful situations however, I want to do my part in helping the doctors. Medical imaging is a crucial part to diagnosis and treatment planning for patients and with my love of anatomy, it was the obvious choice for me. This career path also requires a good knowledge of physics in this field, physiology and pathology, and a range of other skills.
And so I am now approaching the end of my third year of my four year bachelor degree in medical imaging. In three weeks I will have finished the theory component of my course with next year being completely composed of clinical placement in hospitals and radiography clinics. I feel as though my life is truly beginning!
Scarlett Van Dijk
How did you know what career was for you?
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have been training in taekwondo for about two and a half years and am excited to announce that tomorrow I will be undergoing my exam to obtain my black belt! The path to become a black belt in any martial art involves much dedication, determination and discipline. It also requires a high level of fitness, physical strength and skill.
I have graded up to my black belt in the shortest time possible within my club (not that I am bragging or anything) and I attribute this to my past experience. Ballet dancing was a large part of my physical life for thirteen years. Ballet taught me valuable skills involving body awareness, balance and flow. Body awareness is an intuitive understanding of your anatomy and how your joints and body moves as a whole. This is extremely important for kicks in taekwondo, especially jumping moves which people often have significant difficulty with. From being driven to learn complex routines during ballet I have also developed the ability to absorb movement sequences with ease hence I am able to easily remember my patterns (known as poomse) for my taekwondo gradings.
Other sports I have participated in include athletics which I participated in for about three years, and soccer which I was part of for two seasons. I found that my ballet experience helped even with these sports and the skills they required despite occasional friendly teasing about my ballerina-like style. I was nick-named Twinkle Toes by a couple of my team mates at soccer.
Taekwondo teaches valuable skills. I have learnt self-defence skills and my self-confidence has also improved. I am proud of my accomplishments in this area. As an added bonus it has helped broaden my knowledge of what was required for particular scenes within my stories. My novel, Sky Stone, and my current work-in-progress, Guardian Core, both include a significant amount of fighting. Most of this is sword fighting but some unarmed combat is also included and I found my knowledge of taekwondo helped me write realistic fight scenes.
Thanks for reading. Wish me luck for tomorrow!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Today I shall tell you a little about my studies at university. I am a third year university student undertaking a bachelor degree in Medical Radiation (Medical Imaging). At the end of my four years at university I will be a fully qualified radiographer. For those of you that are unsure, radiographers take x-rays and may undergo further study to specialise in CT, MRI, ultrasound etc. I hope to eventually further my skills into MRI and CT.
Surprisingly often, I am asked why I didn't choose to study medicine. The answer to that question is that I didn't want to. Why? I am impatient and do not wish to be responsible for a person's life. I have great respect for doctors and believe that their job is both tough and necessary, therefore I wish to aid them by providing assistance as a radiographer. The impatience comes in to play with the medical study. Here in South Australia, the first step is a six year university course yet after completing the sixth year the student still isn’t fully qualified. I definitely couldn't wait that long!
What most people don't understand about radiographers is that there is more to the profession than pressing a button to take the picture. During the course we undertake studies in anatomy, physiology, pathology and physics on top of the practical aspects of our job. We emerge from university knowing not only how to use the machines but also how they work. We also see enough medical images to generally be able to pick up many pathologies, however, we are not legally qualified to diagnose patients. Therefore, if you ever are in need of an x-ray, don't expect the radiographer to inform you of the results because they won't tell you even if you ask. I'm afraid you will have to wait for the radiologist to report your images; they are qualified to do so as well as paid for it.
A large part of the university program is comprised of clinical placement. Throughout our third and fourth years we are dispatched to hospitals and clinics to practice our skills. From my experience so far I have found clinical placement to be enlightening and rewarding and I definitely feel this is the right career path for me. Of course, there are the unnerving parts of the job such as imaging patients that have recently been involved in a serious trauma situation, but in general it is very interesting. I believe that this is a career I will be proud to embark on and I will put my all in to being the best radiographer that I can be.
So that is a little about my university course and my future employment. In a couple of weeks I will have mid-year exams and my free time is dwindling by the day. Hopefully I will be able to upload a new blog post each week but if not then this is why.
Thank you for reading.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Yes, that's right, I'm writing a post about my cat. Don't groan please… I'll add pictures!
Bella is a sixteen month old Ragdoll cat. I'm pleased to enlighten any of you that don't know your cat breeds. Ragdolls are playful, affectionate and (technically) docile cats that flop in your arms like a ragdoll (hence their name).
Bella is definitely playful, can be affectionate (occasionally giving my mother kisses and patting me on the face with her paw), but I'm not sure I would call her docile. Sure she can sleep a lot and will stretch out for a scratch but her creepy switch can flick just as often. Mid-rub she will suddenly stare at you wildly, expose her claws and latch on to your arm with a strength you wouldn't think a cat possessed, kicking at your arm with her back paws. She very rarely causes injury (but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt). Usually, at least once a day, we will hear a strange yowling and will slump down quietly so as not to disturb this crazy animal. That yowling signifies that true craziness has emerged. Soon after she will shoot in through her cat flap, sprint across the room to the other side of the house (where she will yowl again) then race back. If she notices you watching, her fur will stand on end, her eyes will widen, her tail will twitch then she will run at you sideways with her back arched. I cannot truly explain how CREEPY this is. My mother and I call it the 'Crab Run'.
Before Bella joined my family I had no idea cats could possess so much personality. She treats my mother as, well, her own since she provides her with what she needs (mainly food). I am like the annoying older sister that gives her too much attention and scolds her when she scratches at the carpet. My dad is the one to sit on since he allows her to cling to his arm while he watches TV. This is how she treats us:
Mum – Bella will sit next to my mum patiently but will not be man handled, yet she will poke her in the leg with her paw if she doesn't get attention (or food). When she becomes really impatient she will meow with a whine and you could swear she is saying "mum"! She will follow mum around the house like a duckling following the mother duck, often getting in the way of house chores; getting under the bed covers while they are being changed, sliding around in the bath and shower while the bathroom is being cleaned, and jumping on top of the toilet (she nearly fell in once when the lid was up!)
Dad – The only person she acts as a typical lap cat with is dad. She will curl up next to him or on his lap for a nap and a scratch. Sometimes her only reason for associating with him is to claw at his arm and chew his wrist. Luckily, his skin is like leather!
Me – I am the one who scolds her for scratching furniture and the carpet (and she knows it). I've come to realize that she does this to antagonize me. She will ignore my scolding until I stand to come after her. She will then sprint away, trying to get me to chase her. If I do and then attempt to walk back to my seat she will run at me and pounce on at my ankles. She resembles a ninja, one that likes to play tag.
Bella is always the center of attention; she makes it so. Either by whinging, antagonizing us, running about, or getting in our way. As a university student in my third year I have a lot of study that needs doing (I swear it will never be finished). Almost as soon as I sit down and get out my books and notes she will jump on the desk and sprawl out on my homework. If I move her she will try to chew my pen as I write or play with my other utensils so that I can't work. I think she knows exactly what she is doing.
The only times the world does not revolve around her is when she is asleep and when she hides in her boxes and bags. Sometimes she hides so well that you can't tell she is in them. You know, however, when a paw darts out of the box to swipe at your leg if you pass by too close. She is very territorial about her bags.
All of these things have only led us to love Bella, the mad queen of this castle, even more.
Scarlett Van Dijk
I am going to tell you a story of a nerd, an introvert, and a punching bag of social norms. That nerd is me. After finishing high school and entering university, I reflected on my time at school and pitied the young girl I was back then. Sounds sad? Well it isn't because I now realize that those experiences have helped to mould me into the person I am today.
As a young girl, in my primary school years, I was a loud, energetic, and often naughty child. I would climb things, jump on things, laugh a lot, and smile constantly. I was often rejected or ignored, people call it bullying, even back then but my naivety and ability to lose myself in my own world made me oblivious to it all and protected me for a time. My mind was my playground and what others did or said didn't matter. As I grew I began to lose that naivety, started to notice the goings on around me. That is when life for me began to change.
In high school, at first I was the girl who would make friends quickly. Some may say that is a good thing, in a sense I think it is too, but I gave away my trust too easily. I was caught up in cliques with high expectations, and because I was different, was often on the outside. If I didn't agree with what others said, if I voiced my own opinion, events would quickly get awkward. Of course, not all of my friends treated me this way, but over time I learnt not to speak in groups, I learnt that my opinion was unimportant, and I would fade into the background. By the time my final year, year 12, came around I was a complete introvert, the opposite of how I was as a child. My emotions became bottled up inside until I ran to my teachers or parents and just cried. During all this however, I became exceedingly proficient at understanding others, their emotions and motives. A number of my 'friends' discovered this and I became their personal psychologist. Having the weight of their problems on my shoulders didn't help my situation.
Requiring a release, I turned to writing. I attempted my first novel at the age of fourteen with the aid of my English teacher at the time (unfortunately the project flopped). I came up with the idea for SKY STONE the next year and throughout my high school years, that teacher continued to help me with my writing. I couldn't thank her enough! My emotions would flow out on to the page as I wrote and hence my leading lady, Skyla, was born.
How many people can say that they have written a novel (and are half way through a second)? Out of all my high school classmates I don't know of one that has done so. The same goes for my university friends. Without these experiences over my relatively short life, my writing would not have become what it is. All I can say is that I am excited for what is to come!
Since entering university I have met and become friends with people who understand and accept me for who I am. They laugh at my strange quirks and I at theirs. My comments don't offend them nor do they disregard my opinions. I know I can look to them in need and they will answer. If those friends are reading this, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me regain my feet and now I feel confident enough to tackle the world, as an adult, as a woman, as an adventurer, and as a writer.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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