Therapeutic radiographers are the allied health professionals (AHPs) that are trained to deliver radiotherapy.
In order to practice in the UK all therapeutic radiographers have to to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to be eligible to do so they will have undertaken an accredited degree level programme to train them to work in this field. The professional body for both therapeutic and diagnostic radiographers is the Society and College of Radiographers.
What does a therapeutic radiographer do?
Therapeutic radiographers use their technical expertise and caring skills to manage the treatment pathway for radiotherapy from start to finish. This means that they are responsible for supporting patients through the process from initial appointments when the treatment is being designed to delivery of the radiotherapy in accordance with the completed plan. A therapeutic radiographer will be involved from the outset of a radiotherapy pathway for every patient from construction of any individual immobilisation such as a mask, performing the planning CT scan which is then used to plan optimal beam arrangements for the proposed treatment plan, and then ultimately as the team of professionals that the patient will meet when attending for radiotherapy treatment.
What skills are required to be a therapeutic radiographer?
Therapeutic radiographers have technical expertise in the use of all relevant technologies from using CT scanners to linear accelerators (linacs) as well as in the software used to support the equipment as well as design the treatment plans. As treatment techniques and technology evolves so does the role of the therapeutic radiographer - most recently with the increasing use of magnetic resonance (MR) which has led to expertise in this area being added to some therapeutic radiographer’s roles. In addition to being technically expert in the field the therapeutic radiographer is also working with the public – patients – and needs to be adept socially to be an effective and trusted practitioner. Radiotherapy can be an intimidating experience so a large part of the role is gaining patients trust and compliance and this has to be done sensitively in a manner that is tailored to the individual.
How do you train to be a therapeutic radiographer?
A degree is currently required be able to register as therapeutic radiographer and the entry requirements to join a programme will vary by institution, more information will be available at the individual university websites.