Role of the Therapeutic Radiographer
radiographer works closely with doctors, nurses, physicists and
other members of the oncology team to treat patients with cancer.
The radiographer treats these patients using ionising radiation
- usually high energy X-rays. The aim of the treatment is to deliver
an accurate dose of radiation to the tumour / cancer whilst minimising
the dose received by the surrounding tissues.
As a therapeutic
radiographer you may be involved in patient care from the initial
referral clinic, where pre-treatment information is given, and may
specialise in either the planning or delivery stages of the treatment.
you may participate in regular treatment review and post-operative
remain a valuable contact point for patients and their carers throughout
the course of the treatment; they are educated and trained to provide
most of the care, information and support required during that time.
process is crucial in therapeutic radiography. It normally takes
place in two stages. The first stage is called 'localisation' and
normally happens during the patient's first visit, when s/he will
be positioned precisely as s/he would be for treatment and X-rays
are taken of the affected area. Depending on the type of cancer,
a CT or MRI scan may also be performed to help identify the location
and size of the tumour.
begins, the radiographer carefully explains the process to the patient,
discussing possible side effects and advising on care throughout
treatment. On a daily basis, the therapeutic radiographer assesses
each patient and monitors side effects of the previous sessions
before administering the next dose of radiation.
the patient will spend approximately 15-20 minutes in the treatment
room at each visit. Most of the time is spent accurately positioning
the patient and the equipment for treatment, and reassuring and
advising the patient. Each treatment dose is usually delivered in
less than one minute per entry beam.
is a therapeutic radiographer at a large cancer unit:
well as planning and delivering a highly accurate dose of radiation
using equipment which is technically very complex, it is essential
that the radiographer at the same time attends to the psychological
and emotional needs of each patient.
a therapeutic radiographer you need a wide range of skills (both
technical and interpersonal) and must be able to communicate
well with the other professionals in the team to ensure the most
appropriate treatment is given to each patient.
atmosphere in the radiotherapy department is usually friendly
and hopeful (up to 60% of those who come for radiotherapy can
be cured). Some patients attend for periods of up to six weeks
and get to know the staff quite well. Most patients who come
to a radiotherapy department attend as outpatients and normally
look fit. We do, of course, get some patients who are very ill
and there are also times when, sadly, the aim of treatment is
not to cure but simply to help improve their quality of life,
for example, by relieving pain.
there is terrific job satisfaction, and this is a very challenging
career. You need to be able to give a lot of yourself but at
the same time not take home the individual patient's problems.
Not everyone can do that. In fact, you need to be a very special
person, both intelligent and humane and with good manual dexterity.
marvellous when people come back years later and are hardly recognisable
because they look so well. Most of our patients come to the department
whenever they visit the hospital just to say 'Hi, I thought I
would let you know how I'm getting on'. At Christmas we are always
inundated with cards.
wouldn't choose to do any other job."
course of education, training and clinical practice, radiographers
develop such a wide range of transferable skills - including pyscho-social,
organisational, managerial, technical and scientific skills, - that
individuals are prepared for work in any situation that best suits
their individual skills and interests. This can extend to general
management at all levels within and outside the NHS, including industry
and higher education.
degree therapeutic radiographers may choose to specialise in:
information and patient support
medicine - therapy aspects
For more information: http://radiographycareers.co.uk/