Therapeutic radiographers work in the oncology departments of hospitals, using state-of-the-art radiography equipment to treat patients suffering from cancer. These professionals are in the business of saving and improving lives, delivering controlled doses of radiation to the affected site and eliminating tumours, without damaging the healthy cells in the surrounding area.
However, therapeutic radiographers don’t simply administer doses of radiation: they play a vital role in creating treatment plans for patients and helping them cope with the knockout blow that a dose of radiotherapy delivers.
Therapeutic radiographers not only need the technical skills to use radiotherapy equipment, but they also need the ability to develop relationships with frightened, fragile and vulnerable patients. Indeed, in this line of work, patient care is just as important as operating the equipment.
Following treatment sessions, it’s time for therapeutic radiographers to dive head first into their administrative duties, where they’ll be maintaining treatment records, writing reports and keeping up to date on the latest treatment methods and innovations in radiotherapy equipment.
These guys are usually employed by the NHS, private healthcare facilities, scientific research establishments and manufacturers of radiography equipment.
Salary & benefits
The NHS is the single-largest employer of therapeutic radiographers in the UK. Entry-level radiographers (NHS – Salary Band Five) can earn between £21,000 and £28,000.
However, as you progress into more senior positions, you can earn much more: Band Six employees earn between £24,000 and £33,000, while Band Seven employees earn between £28,000 and £41,000, and Band Eight employees earn up to £68,000 per annum.
Therapeutic radiographers work long hours in planned shifts on a weekly basis. You won’t be required to work night shifts, but you might be required to work weekends from time to time.
The basic academic requirement is an accredited undergraduate or postgraduate degree in therapeutic radiography, where the accreditation is provided by the Health Professions Council (HPC) and the Society and College of Radiographers. The degree programme is conducted over a three-year period and is comprised of theoretical and clinical training in equal parts.
To be eligible for the postgraduate degree, you will need to do your undergraduate qualification in a scientific or healthcare subject, such as biology, life sciences or nursing.
Training & progression
All freshly-qualified therapeutic radiographers must register with the Health Profession Council (HPC) and become members of the Society & College of Radiographers. HPC registration is renewable once every two years, but only by satisfying continuing professional development criteria.
Progression within the profession is facilitated by taking approved courses in specialty areas, such as nuclear medicine, patient care and treatment planning.