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How to become a Radiographer

radiographer careers

What does a Radiographer do?

Radiographers help diagnose or treat patients who are ill or injured, using different kinds of radiation such as x-rays, radioisotopes, ultrasound and magnetic resonance. The work requires knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology and the ability to work with highly technical, computerised equipment, while at the same time caring for patients.

There are two types of radiography:

  • diagnostic radiography - this involves producing and interpreting high-quality images of the body to identify and diagnose injury and disease or screen for abnormalities. Increasingly, radiographers are involved in interventional procedures, such as biopsies.
  • therapeutic radiography - this includes planning and delivering prescribed treatment using x-rays and other radioactive sources. They work closely with a team of medical specialists to plan and treat malignant tumours or tissue defects, using radiation. The work involves assessing and monitoring the patient throughout the course of treatment and follow up.
Both types of radiographers work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside radiologists, clinical oncologists, physicists, radiology nurses and other health care professionals.

What's the working environment like working as a Radiographer?

Most radiographers in the NHS work 35 hours a week, although under new legislation this may increase to 37.5 hours a week. Diagnostic radiographers regularly work nights and weekends.

Diagnostic radiographers work mainly in the radiography department of a hospital, but could also work in other departments such as outpatients, Accident and Emergency, operating theatres and wards. Unsocial hours are often required to accommodate shift patterns. Increasingly there are opportunities for radiographers to work in primary health care (particularly GP surgeries), and occasionally sports clubs, using ultrasound to assess injury.

Therapeutic radiographers work in specially equipped radiotherapy/oncology centres across the country.

Radiographers usually wear a uniform, and diagnostic radiographers wear protective clothing when carrying out certain procedures. The work can be tiring, stressful and physically and emotionally demanding.

What does it take to become a Radiographer?

To be a radiographer you should:

  • have an interest and ability in science subjects, especially biology and physics
  • have an aptitude for working with complex high-tech equipment
  • work with accuracy and attention to detail
  • be able to think quickly and make decisions independently
  • be willing to keep up to date with new techniques and treatments
  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • be able to understand the emotional needs of patients who are very ill
  • be physically fit and emotionally resilient.

Radiographer Career Opportunities

Most radiographers are employed in NHS hospitals, clinics or radiotherapy centres. There are some opportunities to work in private hospitals or the armed forces, and to work abroad.

There are opportunities to undertake further training and qualifications to specialise in a particular area of work, for example, counselling and palliative care; using particular techniques or equipment; or working with a particular group of patients. Others may specialise in research, teaching or quality assurance.

Career progression is to senior radiographer and superintendent. Radiographers may also move into departmental or general NHS management.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Radiographer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Society and College of Radiographers
207 Providence Square
Mill Street
Tel: 020 7740 7200

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

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Courses to help you become a Radiographer