As a diagnostic radiographer you use different forms of imaging technology to examine inside people’s bodies and diagnose the cause of illnesses.
To become a diagnostic radiographer you will have an educational background in a health or science subject, you will have successfully completed a radiography training programme approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and you will be registered with the HCPC.
Working across various hospital departments, the images you collect will directly inform diagnoses and subsequent treatments.
Over time you may contribute towards interpreting images, establishing treatment plans and helping intervention procedures such as removing kidney stones.
City, University of London is a leading UK provider of radiography education. We are ranked highest in London for medical technology (Complete University Guide 2020) and our modern training facilities include a life-size virtual radiotherapy environment.
What can I expect as a diagnostic radiographer?
If you work within the National Health Service (NHS), as almost all diagnostic radiographers in the UK do, you will probably work in the radiology and imaging departments of hospitals. Your job there will be to capture and interpret images before reporting your findings.
Almost all departments in the hospital will need your service, from accident and emergency, to outpatients, operating theatres and wards.
You will work with health professionals including healthcare scientists working in non-ionising imaging and you may supervise radiography assistants.
You may work in private clinics and hospitals outside the NHS.
The imaging technology and techniques you use will include:
- X-ray to examine bones, cavities and foreign objects
- Fluoroscopy to give a real time image of the digestive system
- Computed tomography (CT) offering cross-section views
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) building a 2D or 3D map of tissue types
- Ultrasound to check circulation, examine the heart and in antenatal work
- Angiography to inspect blood vessels.
Your regular tasks will include screening for abnormalities and undertaking surgical procedures like biopsies to find a cause of disease.
As a diagnostic radiographer you will be highly safety conscious to protect yourself and others. Your safety related duties will include:
- Taking responsibility for radiation safety in your work area, regularly checking equipment
- Managing referrals to ensure patients receive a radiation dose as low as possible
- Supervising visiting staff and patients in radiation work areas
- Monitoring new health and safety guidelines, including ionising radiation regulations.
You may help in complex radiological examinations, working with doctors such as radiologists and surgeons.
The work can be physically demanding. As well as spending long periods on your feet, there will be requirements to move and lift patients and equipment.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a diagnostic radiographer, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
Who can I work for as a diagnostic radiographer?
Most radiographers in the UK work for the NHS. You are likely to work in the radiology and imaging departments of hospitals, but it's also possible to work in general practitioner surgeries and clinics.
You can work in private hospitals and clinics or in education, conducting research and training radiographers. Opportunities also arise in veterinary practice, customs and excise, prisons and the armed forces.
Another option may be work as an application specialist for a manufacturer, delivering training when new equipment is introduced in hospital departments.
What about work experience as a diagnostic radiographer?
Before applying to any relevant course you are expected to have visited an imaging or radiography department. Contact your local hospital and ask to spend time work shadowing a qualified diagnostic radiographer.
Also valuable in your application will be any health-related work with the public, paid or voluntary.
What are my prospects as a diagnostic radiographer?
As a profession with a formally acknowledged skills shortage, your prospects as a diagnostic radiographer are good and there is a chance of rapid career progress.
You can work through the NHS grading structure in clinical and management positions.
Newly qualified diagnostic radiographers receive an induction followed by a period of preceptorship, when you familiarise with the policies and procedures of the workplace. You also have the chance to reflect on your practice under clinical supervision.
With a level of experience you can specialise in a specific patient group or area of diagnostic radiography such as breast screening/mammography, interventional radiography or nuclear medicine.
Some diagnostic radiographers eventually progress to consultant level, where you can inform the strategic development of services and undertake research.