There are so many specialised roles in healthcare that someone thinking of entering the profession can find it a daunting task to know where to start. By having a particular area of expertise in mind means that you can concentrate on building the rights skills and knowledge base to move forward in your career quickly. With so many aspects of modern medical and clinical practises coming together to provide a holistic system of care for patients across the spectrum, choosing a path such as radiography is a great way to set up solid foundations for a long and successful career.
What does a radiographer do?
Essentially radiographers create images of what is going on inside the body of a patient and this plays a key role in the modern diagnosis of a wide range of injuries or diseases. They also play a part in the treatment of people with certain illnesses. Delivering a patient-focused healthcare service in a sensitive and supportive way is part and parcel of the everyday work of a radiographer, as is operating expensive high-tech equipment that is often at the cutting edge of new developments.
Skills and requirements
People skills such as empathy play a big part in the training of a radiographer and although some people have a natural gift in this area it is also something that can be successfully taught and learnt. Detailed knowledge of anatomy, disease and injuries is also needed as is an interest in new technology and science in general.
Radiography is a strictly regulated profession and in the UK all radiographers must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Radiographers also need to meet the standards of the Society of Radiographers' Code of Professional Conduct which sets out values such as respect, empowerment, empathy, trustworthiness, integrity and justice.
To be registered with the HCPC an HCPC-approved radiography training programme must be completed either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Undergraduate degrees take three years full time (or four years in Scotland) or can be completed on a part-time course over six years. For those who already have a degree in a science or health-related subject, accelerated postgraduate diagnostic training programmes are available with courses which usually last up to two years.
Various sub-specialisations offer many paths to career advancement, including working in computerised tomography (CT) scanning or sonography, interventional radiography, magnetic resonance imaging MRI and nuclear medicine. There are roles that involve trauma, accident and emergency applications too. The wide ranging nature of the work means that positions are available in various locations and settings around the country.