Radiography Assistant

The Job and What's Involved

As a radiography assistant, or imaging support worker, you would help qualified radiographers with their day-to-day duties.

Your work would often include:

  • Providing reassurance to patients using the department
    giving information to patients about their treatment.
  • Transporting patients to and from other wards and departments.
  • Helping to maintain image processing systems and accessory equipment.
  • Reporting any faults with equipment.
  • Providing emotional and physical support to patients during treatment.
  • Assisting the radiographer with procedures, such as biopsies
    clerical tasks, such as booking appointments.

Your duties could also involve processing film images (to help diagnose ill or injured patients) and maintaining hygiene within the department.

You would usually work around 37.5 hours a week as a full-time assistant. Part-time hours and job sharing opportunities are also often available.

This work can be physically and emotionally demanding as you would be working with patients with a range of health conditions. You would wear protective clothing, such as an x-ray apron, when working with these machines.

You will be based within a hospital radiography department or outpatient clinic.

Radiography assistants can earn between £13,600 and £18,500 a year. Assistant practitioners can earn up to around £21,800.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You will find most jobs in the NHS. You could also work in private hospitals or clinics.

Education and Training

You may not need any specific qualifications to become a radiography assistant. However, you will usually need a good general standard of education and some employers may prefer you to have four or more GCSE's (A-C) including maths, English and a science subject. Check with your local NHS Trust for specific advice.

It could be an advantage to have some relevant paid or voluntary experience. For more advice about this, contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS Trust.

Another way to get experience of this work is through an Apprenticeship. Schemes vary between NHS Trusts, and in a few places they may still be referred to as Cadet Schemes. They usually include clinical placements and study towards a qualification, such as the new Level 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support (title subject to change).

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

You could also contact your local NHS Trust for details of schemes in your area.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you are working as a radiography assistant, you will usually receive on-the-job training from your employer. You may also be encouraged to work towards a NVQ levels 2 or 3 in Health, including units specific to radiography support work.

A new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is being introduced and by 2011 at the latest, it's expected that all new learners will be registered for qualifications on the new framework. For this area, NVQs will be replaced with new vocational qualifications, which are expected to include a level 2 and 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support, and a Level 3 Diploma in Allied Health Profession Support (subject titles are to be confirmed; course providers and employers can give further advice).

With experience, you may be able to apply for an assistant practitioner post and study for a foundation degree in a subject such as radiography and oncology practice. This could give you access to year two of a degree leading to registration as a radiographer (this may be done as part of a secondment, with financial support from your employer).

As an assistant (or assistant practitioner) you could join the Society and College of Radiographers, which would give you access to networking opportunities and professional development activities.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A radiography assistant needs:

  • Patience and empathy.
  • The ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • An interest and ability in science.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Good communication and listening skills.
  • The ability to reassure patients who may be worried or distressed.
  • Good team working skills and the ability to work on your own initiative.
  • An awareness of health and safety regulations.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience (as a radiography assistant or assistant practitioner) and with support from your employer, you could go on to study part-time to become a qualified radiographer. Check with the Society and College of Radiographers for further advice, and the Health Professions Council website for a list of approved full- and part-time courses.

Get Further Information

NHS Careers, PO Box 2311, Bristol BS2 2ZX
Tel: 0845 606 0655
Websites: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk
and www.jobs.nhs.uk

The Society and College of Radiographers,
207 Providence Square, Mill Street,
London SE1 2EW
Tel: 020 7740 7200
Websites: www.sor.org
and www.radiographycareers.co.uk

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