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Becoming a radiographer

radiographer x-rayInterested in becoming a radiographer? Here are answers to commonly asked questions about courses, qualifications and employment prospects.

Why become a radiographer?

There is currently a national shortage of radiographers. Both diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers provide essential services to millions of people. Without detailed images of what is happening inside the body, treatments would not be as effective, or valuable time may be lost.

How easy will it be to get a job once I qualify?

In recent years, because of the shortage, the vast majority of graduating students have secured a post in radiography well before they qualified.

Will I have to pay course fees?

No. The course is fully funded by the Department of Health, (Department for Employment & Learning and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, and the Student Awards Unit in Wales). You will also be able to apply for an NHS student bursary which would provide additional financial support throughout your radiographic education. This is means tested the amount you receive depends upon your personal financial circumstances. All students can also apply for student loans.

How long is the course?

The majority of courses run over three or four academic years. Many universities operate an extended academic year to allow you to gain the necessary clinical experience based in one or a number of either a radiology or radiotherapy departments. This may mean that you may have reduced vacations compared to a non-vocational degree course.

How long will I spend in the clinical environment during my course?

This differs slightly from university to university but there is essentially a 50/50 split between academic study and practical work.

Where will I be placed for my clinical learning?

All universities have their own approved clinical learning centres within local hospitals and NHS Trusts. For some radiography programmes you will be placed in the same hospital for the full three years of your training (this usually includes some elective placements at hospitals of your choice at certain times during the course). Other programmes operate a system of rotation through a series of hospitals throughout the training period.

Are there any part-time radiography courses?

Some universities have begun offering part-time routes.

What opportunities are there for me once I have qualified?

General radiography is an exciting and challenging career with a reasonable salary and plenty of development opportunities. There is also wide range of role extension areas in both therapy and diagnostic radiography. In addition, you could move into management, education or research.

Can I work abroad?

The BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography and BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy degree is internationally recognised and readily accepted in many overseas countries.

Do I need any special qualities to be a radiographer?

Check out the student entry profiles on the course descriptions through the UCAS website to view the skills and personal attributes required. (This will help you when completing your UCAS form personal statement as well!) You will also need to be of sound moral character and so a criminal record check will be made. You should be aware that no criminal convictions or cautions are considered ‘spent’ for the purposes of employment in the Health Service.

How do I find out more about the role of a radiographer?

Most x-ray and radiotherapy departments will be happy to let you spend a day shadowing a qualified radiographer so you can be sure what is involved before you apply. You could contact your local hospital or ring the admissions tutor for details about their placement sites.

How do I apply?

Contact UCAS on 01242 227788 for an application form. You can also apply online.

(Information taken from the Society of Radiographers website)

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