As a therapeutic radiographer, you’ll be on the front line battling against cancers and tumours. You’ll not only give precise doses of X-rays and ionising radiation, you’ll also give hope. Using high levels of accuracy, you’ll give each patient’s tumour or cancer the correct dose while also ensuring the surrounding normal tissues receive the lowest possible dose.
As a therapeutic radiographer, you’ll be part of a team dedicated to helping those with cancer. You’ll be based in a hospital, working alongside patients and colleagues to design treatment programmes. You’ll support patients until their treatment ends.
From taking initial X-rays to using a CT scanner or linear accelerator, you’ll work with complex advanced technologies. You’ll be part of a wider team, working with members from multiple departments to guide patients on their recovery from cancer.
What are the pay and conditions like?
Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours and may include a mix of shifts, such as nights, early starts, evenings, and weekends. If you work in the NHS, you’ll be paid on the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system, typically starting on band 5.
You will be able to claim £2,000 a year towards childcare costs through the NHS Learning Support Fund, and there’s funding available for adult dependants and some placement travel costs too. If you have a disability, there are grants to help with essential costs while studying via the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
If working on the NHS you will have access to one of the best pension schemes in the UK, as well as access to exclusive health service discounts and benefits at some of the most popular brands.
Where you could be working
Therapeutic radiographers work in the radiography departments of hospitals.
What are your career development opportunities?
You’ll receive an annual personal development review to ensure you’re making the most of every opportunity offered. And with continuous professional development, you can add to your skills and progress to specialist roles with a higher pay grade.
You’ll be encouraged to join the Society of Radiography where you can take courses, conferences, and seminars.
You may also choose to specialise in treating certain cancers. That might include working with children or new emerging technologies such as proton-beam therapy. You might also use your skills to follow a career in research, teaching or management.
You’ll be the person providing complex therapy for life-threatening cancers. That means you’ll need to be able to communicate clearly and sensitively. Patients may include people with learning difficulties or worries such as claustrophobia, and you will need to adapt to those situations and keep a calm and clear tone as you talk through the process with patients and fellow team members.
Are you interested in new technologies?
You’ll need to have a passion for groundbreaking new equipment. As research uncovers new ways to beat cancers, you’ll be at the forefront of the fight. You’ll also need to be safety conscious with excellent observational skills.
Are you dextrous?
You need to have dexterity, coordination and sensory skills. That’s because you’ll need to arrange patients in the optimum position so that equipment can do its job efficiently.
Are you adaptable?
Careers in medicine evolve constantly. New technologies emerge and fellow radiographers conduct new research all the time. To succeed, you’ll need to adapt. You’ll need to change your methods, know everything about the latest technologies and read up on ideas that could make you more effective at what you do. As hospitals invest in new technologies, you’ll need to adapt to provide the best level of service.
Are you a caring person?
Cancer is a scary thing. So there is more to this job than planning and delivering treatments. You’ll offer emotional support to patients and their families or carers. You’ll need to be easygoing, so those patients feeling nervous about their treatment are put at ease.
To become a therapeutic radiographer, you must first successfully complete an approved degree or master's in radiotherapy. Degree courses take three or four years full-time, or up to six years part-time. There are also some postgraduate programmes that can take two years.
Once you’ve successfully completed a programme approved by the HCPC, you are then eligible to apply for registration with them. Once registered as a practitioner, you’ll be required to retain your name on the register by keeping your knowledge and skills up-to-date and paying an annual retention fee.
Your employer and the government will pay the tuition fees, so apprenticeships aren’t eligible for student grants.
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