What does a diagnostic radiographer do?
Diagnostic radiographers work with imaging machines, including MRI, CT, Ultrasound and X-ray. They guide patients through the imaging process, getting them prepared for the scan and working to put their nerves at ease if they’re anxious about the scan or the machine.
What role does a diagnostic radiographer play in the care of a patient?
All patients at Rutherford Cancer Centres will have their own specialist team made up of different practitioners and specialists. Each one will liaise with the patient in some way, including diagnostic radiographers who have a patient-facing role. Nick said:
“As a radiographer, it’s really good to play an intricate part in the patients’ diagnosis pathway.
"We have a chance to interact with all our patients. Many of them are scared about having a scan and it’s nice that we have the ability to speak to them and talk them through everything.
"Some are so reluctant to have it done, but knowing how important this scan is for them, I like that we can help them by making them feel at ease.
"It’s nice when a patient gets off the bed and says, ‘that wasn’t as bad as I thought.”
What does a normal day look like for a diagnostic radiographer?
Diagnostic radiographers at the Rutherford Cancer Centres are responsible for the care of several types of patients. Some are patients who have been referred to the IMAGING@Rutherford service by their GP, others have an appointment because they’ve noticed an abnormality, some are due a mammogram or other routine scan, some are NHS patients who have been referred to us, and others are cancer patients currently undergoing treatment at the centres.
Nick and all the other diagnostic radiographers start their day by looking over the appointments they have scheduled in. This lets them know where they need to be and what the patients’ circumstances are, allowing them to tailor their care and approach in advance.
After determining his schedule, Nick will start greeting patients and talking to them about what the scan will entail and what they can expect. He then gets them ready for the scan and gets them settled onto the machine. He said:
“We use the Rutherford’s 1.5T Phillips Ingenia scanner which is much more patient-friendly than other scanners.
“The ambient lighting and viewing screen is often commented on by our patients and particularly helps our claustrophobic patients as it gives a sense of having more space around them when they use the viewing mirror.
“The machine also has a wider bore hole which patients find nicer too.”
How do you become a diagnostic radiographer?
There are several routes into radiography, with most entailing going to university and studying a diagnostic radiography course. This isn’t the route Nick took, though. He said:
“After working within the aviation industry for 16 years, I decided to pursue a job in healthcare.
“I’d heard about the Rutherford and read up about it, and I was interested in the treatments that they were offering to patients and thought I could bring my skills working with people to the role.
I saw a job opening to test visitors and patients for COVID-19 when they entered the centre and thought it would be a good opportunity to experience working at the Rutherford and beginning a role within a healthcare environment.
"After a few months with the company, a job opening came up to work in the diagnostics department as an RDA (radiography department assistant), which I applied for and was successful!”
Nick is currently undertaking an apprenticeship in order to become a fully qualified diagnostic radiographer. He is currently learning all the core components of diagnostic radiography. It’s a highly varied role, as Nick explained:
“Since starting in the department, I’ve learnt so much and have found the work the diagnostic radiographers do is really interesting.
“I am also gaining a lot of knowledge through my apprenticeship, such as anatomy and physiology as well as phlebotomy.”
Find out more about Rutherford Cancer Centres
Radiographers are a valued part of our team at the Rutherford. If you’re looking to undertake cancer treatment or diagnostic imaging, you’re in the best hands at the Rutherford with Nick and the rest of our team. If you want to find out more about diagnostics and cancer care at Rutherford Cancer Centres, please get in touch.