How to become a radiographer
The role of a radiographer is to analyse the anatomy of a patient through x-rays performed using modern imagery technology employed by healthcare institutions like hospitals. Radiographers play a vital role in trying to detect health problems by using their radiography skills.
There are two main types of radiography:
Diagnostic – Diagnostic radiography is essentially used to do as the name suggests – that is to help diagnose medical conditions. Many health problems require use of x-rays, scanning machines to examine the body before a proper diagnosis can be made.
The role of a radiographer can be underestimated because it may look like a simple task, but in fact they have to be very precise and have a very good knowledge of the human anatomy. Any mistake made by a radiographer can lead to wrong diagnosis i.e. a patient can be declared as having no problems because of the mistake made by a radiographer.
Therapeutic – This form of radiography requires the radiologist to perform healing techniques such as radiotherapy using equipment to emit radiation to kill cancer cells e.g. chemotherapy on a cancer patient.
Anyone wishing to become a radiographer should have a keen interest in science, especially biology because it requires intimate understanding of the human body.
After graduating from high school, you should focus on studying science subjects at college.
Prior to enrolling at university, a student will be expected to have met the minimum entry requirements, which for most universities would be at least two A-levels
You will need a degree in radiography. A degree will brush up on all the theoretical knowledge but also provide practical training, particularly in the final year.
Since the role of a radiographer involves working with patients, it is paramount that a radiographer possesses excellent communication skills. It is also important that they are able to demonstrate the ability to work on their own and are also highly competent working as a team.
Once qualified, a radiographer wishing to practise diagnostic or therapeutic radiography will have to enrol as a member with Health Profession Council. This will entitle you to work as a radiographer with any organisation.
Cost of radiography course
There are significant costs involved in doing a course in radiography. Most students will have their fess paid by the NHS.
Availability of jobs
Most radiotherapists work at hospitals in x-ray departments. However, there are also jobs available in many offices of GP and doctors.
Demand for radiotherapists is high because of the relatively low levels of well-qualified technicians. Also, due to the increasing number of old aged people there will inevitably be more demand placed on the services of health care professionals.
Also, more and more doctors are starting to employ specialist radiographers because they are purchasing highly specialised equipment for their offices to try and help carry out diagnosis rather than always having to send a patient to a hospital.
Securing a job
Since most radiographer positions are with the NHS, the recruitment policy is usually the standard procedure of posting jobs with recruitment agencies and classified services as and when they are available. Of course, a newly qualified radiographer will be expected to be proactive and build a relationship with a recruitment agency so they can find you a position to match your requirements.
Many organisations requiring radiographers also post jobs on some of the bigger internet job sites. You can log into one of their sites and search to see if they have anything available.
Like any job seeker, you would be expected to brush up on your job interview skills and prepare a very well written CV emphasising your skills and experience.
The salary for a radiotherapist will vary depending on whether working for a public or private sector.
The starting salary a radiographer working in health care such as hospital can expect to earn just above £18,000 in the UK or just below $30,000 in the US in their first year provided they are working fulltime. However, this can rise significantly with experience. Some radiographers progress into management after several years of gaining experience and demonstrating high levels of competence.