Diagnostic radiographers

Diagnostic radiographers are responsible for the production and processing of images of body structures to support the diagnosis of systemic disease and skeletal and soft tissue abnormalities as a result of trauma or disease. Images are also produced to support and guide direct interventional treatments, procedures and therapies.

Radiographers use a variety of x-ray machines to produce planar and real time fluoroscopic x-ray images as well as cross sectional body images using computed tomography (CT) scanners. Once qualified, radiographers can progress to using other, non-x-ray imaging technologies including magnetic resonance (MR) and ultrasound for the production of cross sectional body images as well as using radiopharmaceuticals for the production of scintillation images (nuclear medicine).

Radiographers have opportunities to progress to advanced practice, undertaking specific roles usually undertaken by doctors such as reporting images, undertaking and reporting on diagnostic and interventional procedures or research roles. There are career opportunities for management within and beyond radiology and for roles in radiography education and training within the hospital environment and as university lecturers.

A key aspect of the radiographers' role is the management of complex interpersonal dynamics immediately before, during and after the imaging process. During this period, diagnostic radiographers take responsibility for the physical and psychological well being of the patient, will need to work closely with the doctors requesting examinations and the radiologists who report on them. They work independently and frequently in situations where they are required to make rapid professional judgments using their scientific, technical and patient care related knowledge base. This includes deciding what examination is indicated and how best to execute the procedure, patient safety and especially radiation safety are paramount and the responsibility of the radiographer whilst the patient is ion their care.

Radiographers provide this service throughout the twenty-four hour day, seven days a week, whilst the majority of work is done within extended core hours emergency services are provided out of hours. In keeping with the delivery of modern patient based services, routine radiography services are increasingly being provided at weekends.

Radiographers should expect to work on a rotational shift basis and in some roles provide emergency on-call services. On call service often involve lone working as a radiographer, with sole responsibility for imaging during the call although you will be working as part of a wider inter-professional care teams and will be supported by remote line management. This calls for free thinking decision makers with the ability to take responsibility

Qualification

The entry level qualification is BSc (Hons) in diagnostic imaging. Degree courses are provided at 22 universities within the UK. Application for university courses is direct via university enrolment process or UCAS clearance.

There are some opportunities for career progression into diagnostic radiography from health care assistant and assistant practitioner roles with NHS trusts via foundation degrees into sponsored degree programmes and apprenticeships.

Registration

To work in the UK as a diagnostic radiographer you must hold a BSC (Hons) in diagnostic imaging or an equivalent qualification and be state registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). HCPC is the organisation responsible for ensuring professional standards and codes or conduct are met and maintained via a formal registration process.

Career Progression

The entry level for newly qualified radiographers is at band 5 level on the Agenda for Change pay scale, in line with nurses, midwives and other health care professions such as physiotherapists. Band 5 radiographers work at a practitioner level undertaking all aspects of their core skills in imaging. At band 5 level you can expect to experience some career development through additional duties, team leadership and training and education into enhanced roles / other imaging modalities.

Band 6 radiographers work at enhanced / advanced practitioner level with either team leader responsibilities or enhanced imaging skills such as MR or specialist imaging such as interventional, paediatric or trauma radiography.

Band 7 radiographers work at advanced practice levels in specialist areas such as ultrasound as well as at managerial levels in superintendent posts, responsible for managing staff and services within small to medium departments and sub departments.

Band 8a radiographers work at higher level advanced practice levels in specialist areas such as ultrasound as well as at managerial levels in superintendent posts, responsible for managing staff and services within medium to large departments.

Band 8b radiographers work at higher level advanced practice levels in specialist areas as consultant radiographers (up to band 9) as well as at senior managerial levels in responsible for managing large departments and or collections of smaller departments.

UHS recruits and develops radiographers in line with the Society of Radiographers (SoR) Strategy for Radiographer Continuing Education.

We aim to:

  • promote inter-professional academic and clinical skills development that protects the public through safe working practices
  • advocate a system of registration and accreditation processes supported by a directorate wide database of practitioners
  • demand formal validation and accreditation of learning wherever it takes place and the regular monitoring and evaluation of outcomes using learning assessment proforma
  • advocate a learning environment that supports the development of healthcare assistants, radiography assistant practitioners and radiographers
  • confirm the bachelor's degree or its equivalent as the minimum qualification for professional practice as a state registered radiographer
  • promote alternative pathways to state registration and professional practice such as accelerated BSc (Hons) and postgraduate diploma/master’s degrees, in-service programmes, direct entry and others
  • ensure that radiography practice is grounded in clinical skills and competency
  • define a structured preceptorship/induction period with specified goals for new registrants to professional practice
  • affirm a clear expectation that each state registered professional carries a responsibility for practice supervision and clinical teaching and learning
  • advocate structured life-long learning to include both formal, informal and specific post registration education and research programmes at master’s and PhD levels to support higher/advanced and (in the future) consultant level clinical practice
  • recommend that academic and clinical skills within professional qualifications must be aligned with relevant national occupational standards and standards of proficiency
  • promote the maintenance of professional standards
  • recognise the need for evaluation of new ways of working models to ensure that the consistency and quality of patient centred care is maintained and enhanced
  • harmonise the educational strategy with the training infrastructure offered by the organisation to support career development