What is Radiography?
Radiography…..there are skeletons in our closet? Let’s get to the bones of it? We can see right through you?
Have you ever had an x-ray? Ultrasound? Breast screening? CT/ MRI? Radio Isotope Imaging? These are all imaging departments within our Radiology department and all are available at our Trust.
For many people their only experience with Radiographers is having an X-ray after being admitted through A&E, but the department is far more wide reaching.
As well as X-Rays, radiographers can give patients ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, mammograms, osteoporosis scans (DEXA) and nuclear medicine treatments.
However, before a patient has their x-ray, decisions have to be made on whether they need the procedure, as most, except MRI and ultrasound, require a small dose of radiation. Unless the benefits outweigh the risks, the procedure does not go ahead.
Did you know that X-Rays were voted the “top scientific invention” from a poll conducted as part of the science museums events to mark its centenary? The public voted the x-ray machine as the best invention over the Apollo 10 space capsule and Stephenson's rocket. Out of nearly 50,000 votes cast, 10,000 people named it for having made the greatest impact on the past, present and future.
What is a radiographer?
Doctors and nurses are the first staff most people think of when they consider a job in the health service, but work undertaken by radiographers is extremely important when diagnosing people with injuries or diseases. A Diagnostic radiographer is a caring professional person who produces images containing the required information for interpretation and to help to form a diagnosis. Radiography is a career in the Health Service for both men and women who have a caring disposition, who want to work with people and have an interest in the application of modern science and technology. The Radiographer must ensure that the image produced is of the highest quality possible and also ensure that the patient is cared for appropriately. This is achieved by explaining to the patient what they must do when the x-ray or scan is being taken. Because of the wide range of x-rays or images that can be taken, the role of the radiographer is extremely varied. One week the radiographer may be working in the Accident and Emergency department x-raying patients who have been injured and the next week the radiographer may be x-raying patients on the ward or in the operating theatre.
The role of the radiographer is constantly developing and extending, with radiographers reporting the images that they take, providing radiographer led services (eg breast screening), governance roles and collaborating with our Allied Health Profession colleagues, putting patients at the centre of everything we do. Radiographers are also undertaking advanced practice, utilising expert knowledge and skills in relation to the delivery of care in diagnostic imaging.These roles also help to deliver a high quality service through research and audit.
90% of patients in hospital have imaging
What makes a good Radiographer?
Radiographers need to be able to support and communicate with patients who may be frightened or uncertain about what is going to happen to them. They need to have confidence to work with leading edge and expensive technology and be able to make decisions and act quickly to the changing environment in which they work. Other skills include:
Excellent communication skills
Care and empathy
Adaptable and able to think quickly
Good with technology
Good at making decisions and able to use initiative
Able to work independently and in a team
A wide range of Imaging techniques are used within Warrington and Halton NHS Foundation Trust’s Radiology Departments:
- General Radiography– the most common type of radiological examination – 9 out of 10 patients see a radiographer - using a wide range of techniques to help diagnose a variety of conditions and injuries.
- Fluoroscopy– where X-ray images are viewed directly on a television monitor providing a real time image of the patient
- Interventional Radiography – used to help repair obstructed arteries or vessels and may reduce the need for a surgical operation
- Ultrasound- high frequency sound waves which produce images of the body. Ultrasound is used to assess the abdominal contents, vessels and superficial studies. It is also used during pregnancy to assess the babies size and health
- Computerised Tomography (CT)– a specialised form of x-ray in which the CT scanner rotates around the patient. More detailed information can be obtained than on a conventional x-ray. It can be used for all parts of the body but is especially useful for scanning the head, chest and abdomen
- Breast Screening– low-energy X-rays are used to show the fine details in the breast tissue
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – modern, high-speed computers map out variations in tissue. This is particularly useful for examining the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system.
Nuclear Medicine – Uses Radionuclides and a gamma camera to provide diagnostic images. Very sensitive in demonstrating early functional changes due to disease
- Mobiles and Theatre Radiography - There are also several mobile x-ray machines, which are used to take x-rays of patients on the ward who are too poorly to come to the department eg: patients on Intensive Care Unit (ITU). Radiographers will also go to theatre and x-ray patients having hip operations or other orthopaedic and surgical investigations.
As a teaching department, we have 15 students placed in the x-ray department at Warrington and Halton Hospitals.
What do I have to do to qualify as a Radiographer?
- BSc honors degree course in either diagnostic or radiotherapy radiography
- Course includes academic and clinical education and assessment
Radiography is a very interesting and challenging career. It is one which is rapidly developing in to many fields of patient care, treatment and diagnosis, with the role of the radiographer extending to encompass more skills and responsibility.
For more careers information: www.radiographycareers.co.ukand www.sor.org