Diagnostic radiography has multiple applications across the full spectrum of medicine and healthcare. Essentially though, these healthcare professionals use state-of-the-art equipment to produce high-quality images of the human body.
We’re not talking about using your disposable camera to take pictures of your girlfriend/boyfriend/close-personal-friend on the beach. No, no! Diagnostic radiographers work in collaboration with clinical physicians and other specialists to help identify and diagnose a variety of medical conditions, diseases and injuries, with the help of complex medical equipment and diagnostic procedures.
These guys have a number of diagnostic weapons in their arsenal, including X-rays, fluoroscopy, nuclear dyes, MRI and CT scanners. As well as looking after the patients in their care, diagnostic radiographers are required to look after the various complex pieces of kit that they use, in order to make sure that they are safe and fit for use.
Diagnostic radiographers are assigned work across different areas of the hospital, including critical care units, casualty and operating theatres. Sometimes they might also use portable devices to help conduct diagnostic scans on wards for patients that can’t move around the hospital.
Salary & benefits
The NHS is the single largest employer of diagnostic radiographers in the UK. Entry-level radiographers are in Band 5 of the NHS pay scale and 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, Band Seven employees earn between £28,000 and £40,000, and Band Eight employees earn up to £65,000 per annum.
Working hours are scheduled on the basis of planned shifts, which cover operations on a 24/7 basis. Diagnostic radiographers are, therefore, bound to work late hours during the week at some point and even on national holidays and weekends too.
The basic academic requirement is an accredited degree in diagnostic radiography, where the accreditation is provided by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the Society & College of Radiographers (SOR). The degree programme is conducted over a three-year period and is comprised of theoretical and clinical training in equal parts.
Training & progression
Post-registration training is mainly through hands-on practice and advanced courses that allow diagnostic radiographers to hone their skills and specialise in certain areas.
Diagnostic radiographers with more than two years of work experience can choose a specialist category for further advancement, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluoroscopy or angiography.
Career progression is mainly dependent on overall experience, academic credentials, professional background and performance. HCPC registration needs to be renewed once every two years and the typical career path consists of the following designations: diagnostic radiographer, specialist diagnostic radiographer, team leader or supervisor, team manager and consultant radiographer.