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A career in radiography
What does a radiographer do?
Radiographers are at the heart of modern medicine. There are two sorts of radiographer: diagnostic and therapeutic.
Diagnostic radiographers employ a range of different imaging techniques and sophisticated equipment to produce high quality images of an injury or disease. Diagnostic radiographers will take the images and very often report on them so that the correct treatment can be given. They use a range of techniques including:
• X-rays • Ultrasound • Fluoroscopy • CT (computed tomography) • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) • Nuclear medicine • Angiography
Therapeutic radiographers play a vital role in the delivery of radiotherapy services. They are the only healthcare professionals qualified to plan and deliver radiotherapy. They constitute over 50% of the radiotherapy workforce, working with clinical oncologists, medical physicists and engineers.
Therapeutic radiographers are responsible for the planning and delivery of accurate radiotherapy treatments using a wide range of technical equipment. The accuracy of these are critical to treat the tumour and destroy the diseased tissue, while minimising the amount of exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Their degree qualified training solely in oncology and the care of cancer patients makes them uniquely qualified to undertake this role.
Why should I want to be a radiographer?
Both diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers provide essential services every year to millions of people. Radiography is the fulcrum around which the rest of medicine revolves.
For example, without detailed, high quality images of what is happening inside the body, diagnosis would be significantly more difficult, treatments would not be as effective and valuable time may be lost. The skills of a diagnostic radiographer are used to identify a broad range of injuries and diseases, including cancer.
Radiotherapy for cancer has also become increasingly important with six out of ten patients who receive treatment being cured. The therapeutic radiographer is closely involved in the planning of the course of treatment, as well as the delivery. S/he gets to know the patient, explains to them what is involved and answers any concerns. Day-by-day, they monitor progress and provide support.
Radiographers are responsible for equipment that would not be out of place in an episode of Star Trek. Departments in larger hospitals can have huge capital expenditure budgets. The top of the range machines cost more than a million pounds.
Promotion opportunities are excellent, with a grading structure that sees the radiographer's salary increase as s/he moves up the profession. British radiographers are recognised as being among the best in the world.
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