Radiographers work in one of two main areas: diagnostic radiography – identifying injuries and diseases using various kinds of scans and x-rays; or therapeutic radiography – using radiation to treat illnesses.
You could be:
using complex equipment such as x-rays, radiation scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, sonography, fluoroscopy and angiography to get images which identify damage or disease
putting dyes into a patient’s body to highlight soft parts
talking to a patient to explain what is happening and to encourage or calm them
examining the images to check that they are clear
carrying out minor maintenance on the machine
writing reports to give information to colleagues.
You need a degree in radiography, specialising in either diagnostic or therapeutic work.
Entry requirements are usually 4 Highers including English and 2 from Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Some courses ask for Physics and Maths at National 5. Check with individual institutions.
If you already have a science- or health-related degree you can apply for the 2-year postgraduate diploma (PgDip) course (which can lead to an MSc course) in Radiotherapy and Oncology at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
You will require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
When you complete your course you apply to gain UK state registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You need this to work in the National Health Service (NHS).
You must pass a medical examination.
There are over 26,000 registered radiographers in the UK, the majority of which work for the NHS. Radiographers also work in private clinics, in industry or in the armed forces.
confident in operating complex equipment and aware of safety
able to get on well with people from all backgrounds and of all ages
caring, supportive and able to calm patients
able to explain procedures clearly
interested in biology, anatomy and physiology
accurate and precise
able to deal with difficult patients in Accident and Emergency
willing to accept responsibility and make decisions
adaptable to learn new skills.
Once you have gained state registration, training is on the job, with short courses to keep you up to date. This is a fast-moving profession and you have to keep up with technological developments.
If you are a diagnostic radiographer you could do a post-registration course approved by the Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education (CASE) to become a specialist in ultrasound. Other specialist areas include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or specialist screening procedures.
You might move into a senior post or into management.
You might train in a specialist area such as ultrasound (for diagnostic specialists) or palliative care (for therapeutic specialists).
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.