I'm thinking about taking radiography, and I was wondering what I need to know.
I don’t know which country you are in. In the UK (where I am), Radiography is a BSc program. You need A levels or equivalent to get in. Different universities want different grades. When I got in I only needed BBC. You need a science.
You need to know that every university teaches the course differently, so it is important to find out what their structure is. Where I trained I spent half of my course in lectures and the other half on placement. Some universities spread the block out (a month at uni, a month on placement and so on) and some have almost a year of lectures followed by several months of placement. You need to decide which format would suit you best.
You need to know that Radiography is one of the geekiest healthcare professions. If you can think analytically and find the principles of physics easy to understand then it might be the degree for you. You will be taught about how radiation works and about how the equipment works (but it is quite simplified). Our interactions with the public/patients are very brief (approx 10 mins usually), so if you are not keen on prolonged people contact (this was me when I began), it’s OK. I like that in a day I meet several people and then they go away. You will learn to put on a confident façade for your patients.
You need to know that there is an academic element, because it is a degree. You will have to write assignments, research topics, critically appraise journal articles and reflect on your own personal development as well as professional practice.
You need to know that it is allied to medicine. You will need to learn anatomy (what there is), physiology (how it works), pathology (what can go wrong) and radiographic technique (how to image it — our job!). Don’t worry, you only need to learn enough to get by and I’ve forgotten most of it already. On placement you learn what you really need.
You need to know that it is healthcare. You need to care for your patients. Maybe not about them (to begin with, but it will come — fake it until you can make it), but you need to make them feel safe and cared for. You need to be trustworthy and act in their best interests.
You need to know that there will be parts of the degree that will feel like a waste of time. Like some form of interprofessional education: It’s never taught as well as it might be. You will have to forgive the course leaders and try to learn what you can. Enter into the spirit of the thing and make the most of it. The same can be applied to the reflective parts in which they ask you what you’ve learned, how that will change your practice and what you’ve left to learn. Just do your best; we all hate it, but it does make you a better person.
You need to know that you will be training in a real life hospital. It’s really cool and really scary and really exciting filled with real doctors and real nurses and real patients. Real people are ill. Don’t forget that. Some get better and some do not. Some die. Do not forget that either. You will be guided by the radiographers who work there. Don’t worry, just be aware.
You need to know that it is a good degree for those who are a little less academic. It’s very physical with lots of standing, walking, lifting. You only need to be able to pass the degree and the academic staff will be there to support you.
You need to know that once the degree is over there are plenty of opportunities to extend your practice, both in your work and academically. You can do post-grad diplomas and certificates, a masters, a PhD. These can let you earn more and do more. You can earn more this way. Or you can go into management.
You need to know that once you’ve graduated, you don’t need to practise. The skills the degree will teach you are transferable to any frontline job. If you don’t want to be a radiographer, you don’t have to be. You can take the degree and do anything you want.
You need to know that everyone has a different experience of the degree and the job. Ask some other radiography blogs the same question and see what they say.
You need to know that I love my job.