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Meeting the demand for radiographers

8 Nov 2017 9:15AM

A combination of an ageing, growing population and the need for radiotherapy and imaging services has meant a growing demand for radiographers. On this World Radiography Day the University has been sharing how it is working to meet this need.

The University runs both BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography and BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy & Oncology degree programmes.

Diagnostic radiographers produce high quality images of injury, illness and disease, using a variety of imaging modalities including X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and nuclear medicine. Diagnostic radiographers provide patient centred care as part of the multidisciplinary team.

Therapeutic radiographers specialise in the use of high energy X-rays to treat patients who have a cancer diagnosis. This role requires excellent interpersonal skills, a commitment to caring and a high level of knowledge of anatomy, oncology and physics.

Hollie Hadwen, Lecturer in BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography said “Our radiography graduates are much sought after- many of our third year students have jobs lined up before they’ve even finished their course.  The University as a whole has a good rate for graduate employment, 95% of University of Suffolk graduates are in work, further study or both six months after graduating; for radiography this figure is nearly 100%.”

The University boasts some of the best facilities for radiotherapy education including VERT, a 3D immersive training tool that allows students to gain complex practical skills in the safe environment of the institution. The degree is taught from the state of the art Atrium building at the University’s Ipswich campus which last year underwent a £5.5m refurbishment. Students are familiar with the clinical environment by using industry standard equipment and through clinical placements. 

Caroline Doolan, Director of Teaching and Learning Quality and course leader for BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy and Oncology said “Students typically spend 60% of their learning hours in clinical practice at one of our partner NHS Trusts. I love my job because I have the opportunity to develop the next generation of therapeutic radiographers who will be providing high quality care to patients across East Anglia and beyond.”

There are currently four placement sites for those studying Radiotherapy & Oncology; Adddenbrooke’s, The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.

For those studying Diagnostic Radiography there is a choice of nine placement sites including the newly added Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. Hollie added “From September 2017, for the first time, we offered a practice placement at Broomfield hospital. As the hospital is not within the immediate vicinity of the University, it would be fair to say that many are surprised by this and those wishing to study the course in Chelmsford may look to London rather than the University of Suffolk so we’re really pleased to be able to offer this opportunity. We have appointed a senior radiographer at Broomfield as a Practice Educator who will support our students whilst on placement.”

Jo Graca, from Ipswich, is an Advanced Practitioner in Medical Ultrasound at Ipswich Hospital and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Diagnostic Radiography in 2014.

The former Society of Radiographers Student of the Year said “The University of Suffolk helped me in so many different ways, starting with the organisation structure and facilities available for students to use, even out of hours, and the course was divided in blocks of lectures and hospital placement which helped me to concentrate in specific areas of the course. Also, the lecturers and my mentor were always available to provide support and guidance during difficult times.”

“Radiography is a very rewarding career; the course structure gives you everything you need to be a successful radiographer. You must be dedicated and willing to give your best for patients. Hard work does pay off in the end!”

“Finding a job was actually straight forward. The University of Suffolk is one of the best universities in the UK to study radiography, so the university profile boosted my application. The course also helps you to prepare for interviews and how to do your CV in the final year of the degree. I only applied for one job and I was successful, 100% of my peer group obtained jobs within a month after the graduation!”

The University of Suffolk is one of only two universities’ in the UK to offer the opportunity for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography students to study abroad as part of their studies through the ERASMUS European Exchange programme. In the final year students can study and live in Finland, Norway, Portugal, the Netherlands, Malta, Ireland or Austria.

Henry Eades from Norwich went to Turku in south west Finland for three months as part of his degree.

He said of the experience “I was attracted to study emergency radiography in Turku, involving traumas, X-rays, A&E admissions, CT and MRI. 80% of my time was practical and 20% theoretical. It helped me gauge what it was like to work in a different type of healthcare system. It allowed me to see how somewhere else runs, having just one hospital experience from placement can be good but you can become engrained with the way they do things so seeing a new way was a good opportunity. I was also able to see what other opportunities there were using a radiography degree, what potential jobs were out there.”

“Erasmus developed my character and let me meet many different people from all over the world- Japanese, Czech, Russian, Italian and Spanish. I lived in an exchange student dorm. It definitely helped me broaden my outset of world views. While I was in Finland I was applying for jobs, I even did a job interview while I was over there on Skype. When I came back I ended up having 3 interviews in one week including one for a band 5 radiographer post in Poole, Dorset which I accepted!”

Both the BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy and Oncology and the BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography  degrees at the University of Suffolk are accredited by The Health and Care Professions Council and the College of Radiographers.

In the recent National Student Survey (NSS) the BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy and Oncology received 100% student satisfaction, a result the University and the team are especially proud of. Caroline adds “I am delighted by the NSS outcome; this is a reflection of the strong partnership working we have established with our NHS placement providers, students, alumni and service users to ensure that we provide the best possible standards of education to equip our graduates to become highly competent, caring and enquiring radiotherapy practitioners.”

Find out more about studying Diagnostic Radiography or Radiotherapy and Oncology or come along to the University’s December Open Event, find more details.


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476