As a therapeutic radiographers you will specialise in therapeutic radiography, which is distinguished from diagnostic radiography.
Your job as a therapeutic radiographer involves using ionising radiation to treat medical conditions such as cancer and tumours. You ensure that a patient's tumour or cancer receives exactly the right dose of radiation while the surrounding normal tissues receive the lowest possible dose.
To become a therapeutic radiographer, you will be scientifically minded, a strong communicator and calm under pressure. You will need to train and study for an undergraduate degree or a postgraduate diploma.
City, University of London is a leading provider of therapeutic radiographer education. We are ranked top in London for medical technology (Complete University Guide 2020) and have training facilities including a life-sized virtual radiotherapy environment.
What can I expect from a career as a Therapeutic Radiographer?
As a therapeutic radiographer you will work in the oncology department of a hospital using technical equipment to target diseased tissue with precise doses of radiation.
Cancer and tumours are often the main point of treatment, but you might also treat blood disorders and thyroid disease.
You have a large amount of contact with patients before, during and after treatment, so you have a major role in helping them cope with daily side-effects. Your communication and care is as important as your technical expertise.
Your duties are likely to include:
- Planning treatment with other therapeutic radiographers, clinical oncologists and medical physicists
- Explaining the treatment, processes used and side effects
- Calculating the required radiation dosage
- Administering doses of x-rays and other ionising radiation
- Developing a connection with your patients and their families
- Maintaining administrative records
- Engaging with continuing professional development (CPD)
- Supporting learners in the clinical learning environment.
You will work in a multidisciplinary oncology team with doctors, nurses, medical physicists and engineers.
The work is physically demanding because you are regularly required to lift patients and equipment.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a therapeutic radiographer, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career as a therapeutic radiographer, 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 therapeutic radiographer?
Most therapeutic radiographers in the UK work for the National Health Service (NHS), but you may also find work in private hospitals and clinics, or in research organisations.
You might also focus on education in the medium to long term. New research in the field is always needed and training of new therapeutic radiographers is always required.
A select number of independent radiotherapy service providers operate in the UK and these might also provide some opportunities. You might work as a specialist for an equipment manufacturer, offering support and training when new facilities are introduced.
What about work experience as a therapeutic radiographer?
Before applying for course you are expected to have visited an imaging or radiography department. You can contact a local hospital and ask to shadow a qualified therapeutic radiographer.
If you have any health-related work experience with the public, whether paid or voluntary, this will always be positive and reflect your commitment to the vocation.
What are my prospects as a therapeutic radiographer?
A national shortage of therapeutic radiographers in the UK means your prospects are bright.
Your chance of quickly finding work is relatively good, especially if you can be flexible with where you work in the country. You are also well positioned for rapid career progress.
With experience you can accept greater clinical responsibilities within oncology services. These might include radiotherapy treatment planning, palliative care or working with students and learners as a practice educator.
You could eventually become a consultant practitioner with management responsibility. At consultant level you can contribute to the planning of services and undertake education and research.
There is also the scope to move into a radiotherapy service management role or a general management post in the NHS.
Outside the NHS you might consider opportunities to work in agencies, charities, or regulation, concentrating on issues around quality assurance and patient care. Research and teaching may be other avenues to explore.