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What is a Radiographer?

What is a Radiographer?
Photo: What is a Radiographer?
A radiographer is an Allied Health professional who uses x-rays to produce radiographs of patients in order to help diagnose the patient’s medical condition.

A radiographer can have a lot of variety in their working day.  As well as using x-rays to produce radiographs, they can take CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs.  They may also undertake breast screening in the Breastscreen Program.

Radiographers just don’t operate x-ray machines.  They’re responsible for receiving messages from medical practitioners requiring radiographs and deciding which method of radiography is the most appropriate for each request.  Not only that, but they also consult with the patient before the procedure, explain the process to them, accurately position the patient’s body and make sure that the radiation levels are safe.
It’s a radiographer’s job to take the best image possible, so that the patient’s medical condition can be diagnosed correctly.  A poorly taken image may lead to a misdiagnosis.

Once the images are taken, the radiographer is responsible for developing the film or processing the digital images, as well as storing them correctly.

A radiographer may also be required to operate specialised equipment, such as fluoroscopy equipment, computed tomography (CT) equipment and angiography equipment.  They may also be required to take radiographs of injured patients, known as trauma radiography.

Angiography requires the radiographer to inject a dye into the patient, thereby allowing the radiographic images to show the patient’s vascular system.

A radiographer’s duties also include capturing images of a patient during an operation, and visiting patients in the hospital wards to take their images because the patients are too ill to visit the x-ray department (mobile radiography).

Once the radiographer has developed the film, they must check their work to ensure that it corresponds to the request and that it will help diagnose the patient’s medical condition.

Although radiographers take images of a patient, they are not qualified to make a medical diagnosis.  This is the responsibility of a radiologist.

Radiographers can work long hours, including overtime.  Shift work may be involved.  There is a good demand for radiographers in Australia and a qualified radiographer may even be able to work overseas.

How do you become a radiographer?

You need to complete a three year full time radiography degree at university such as a Bachelor of Applied Science - Medical Radiation Technology (Medical Imaging Technology).  Once you have graduated, you will then need to gain one year’s clinical experience before you become a fully qualified radiographer.

Once you are qualified, you can apply for membership with the Australian Institute of Radiography and may need to also apply for a Radiation Use Licence and Registration with the Medical Radiations Technologist’s Board in the state you wish to work in.

If you’re interested in science, enjoy working as a team and want to help people then a career as a radiographer may be a satisfying career for you.

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