Radiographers are primarily responsible for operating X-Ray equipment to produce high-quality diagnostic images that aid in the diagnosis of various patient conditions. They can specialise in certain areas of imaging, including sonography, MRI, mammography, computed tomography, nuclear medicine, DEXA scanning and vascular interventional radiography.
When it comes to the daily hustle and bustle of a radiographer, there are no two days (or shifts) that are exactly the same. But if you are wondering what a typical day looks like, it is something similar to this poem:
What oh what does a Radiographer do?
Or rather, what don’t they? Really, it’s true.
They take care of patients with pains and with fears,
They calm the nervous with tissues for tears.
They know all the science, and the machines-
They know what helps best and what it all means.
They know how to support doctors, nurses and patients
And they do it all without hesitation!
Some days are stressful so we can’t stress enough.
We’re thankful to have them when the going gets rough.
Some days are easier but the work’s just as real
To take seriously the needs that all patients feel.
And spread this word, it’s part of our mission:
Our tasks are comprehensive and highly specialised-
We are trained to spot pathology and to recognise.
We are proud of our profession that is our only confession.
Radiographers are registered health professionals who image different parts of the human body using cutting edge technology to help in the diagnosis of disease or where there has been an injury. They form a core part of the diagnostic pathway providing a frontline service to all patients including the sickest as they arrive in the organisation. They are the smiling face 24 hours a day that adds a vital piece to the diagnostic jigsaw for the doctor who is trying to work out what is wrong with you. They work shifts including overnight and at weekends.
The majority of people have had an X-Ray or exam during their life time which is what makes us different from many AHPs.
They undergo a core three year training course after which you can chose to specialise in different areas or modalities, for example, ultrasound or mammography or DEXA
There are multiple different pathways to becoming a radiographer including apprenticeships and assistant practitioner roles. There are great career development opportunities such as becoming a reporting radiographer or advanced practitioner.
A day in the life of a recently qualified radiographer
John qualified as a radiographer in 2021 after a three year degree course . He is now working as a Band 5 Radiographer (which is the usual entry level). This week he is working in the emergency X-ray department. Some of the patients walk round for their X-ray but many are on a trolley or in a chair and John has to adapt his X-ray technique to get really good images. Today, John’s first patient is an 80 year old woman on a trolley who had a fall last night. John begins by checking that he has the correct patient and that the right examination has been requested. She is a little anxious, so John talks to the patient about what he is doing and puts her at ease. As he takes the X-rays, John checks that the patient is not in pain. He is working with a digital X-ray system, so John is able to check the X-rays without leaving the patient. Unfortunately, the X-rays show that the patient has fractured her hip and will need surgery.
Later in the day, John is asked to help cover breaks for the theatre radiographers. He is called to one of the orthopaedic theatres, where his first patient is now having surgery. John operates a mobile imaging system which enables the surgeon to check the positioning as she repairs the fracture. After John has finished in the theatre, he is also able to take a break. The rest of John’s day is spent in emergency X-ray, seeing a wide variety of patients and working with the other radiographers to make sure that everyone is kept safe and seen efficiently. Towards the end of the afternoon, John is asked to go to a ward to do a mobile X-ray on a patient who is too unwell to come to the department. John takes a digital mobile X-ray machine to the ward and takes the X-ray, which is sent wirelessly to be reviewed. John really enjoys the variety in his job; later this year he is going to train to do CT scans, and is looking forward to his next challenge.
- Assistant practitioner
- Diagnostic radiographer (X-ray, fluoroscopy, mammography, nuclear Medicine, computed tomography, theatre, DEXA, angiography, interventional)
- Sonographer (non-obstetrics and obstetrics)
- Reporting radiographers
Why I chose to be a radiographer:
The epicentre of a radiographer’s role is caring for people. I love that you are able to contribute towards making a difference in a person’s life and especially their care. We are a crucial step in the management process of patients, which allows them to receive the diagnosis and treatment they need to get better.