Every year on 8th November, World Radiography Day marks the anniversary of the discovery of X-rays in 1895.
Radiographers are Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) who take scans of patients to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Radiography is one of the most innovative aspects of healthcare, using advanced technology to look inside patients’ bodies and understand the root causes of their illness, and consult with colleagues on diagnosis and treatment plans.
Amalia Colosi is a radiographer and trainee mammographer here at NCIC. Amalia went straight into radiography straight from school after a clinical visit at the Cumberland Infirmary.
She said: “This visit allowed me to shadow a typical day of a radiographer and the role they play within the patient care pathway. From this, I decided that this was the career I wanted to pursue.”
Amalia describes a typical day. She said: “As a radiographer working within mammography every day is different. I am currently working towards my postgraduate within mammography at the University of Salford. We offer imaging within a number of different services, including screening for the detection of breast cancer and patients who are referred from their GP with symptoms such as a lump. As a radiographer you are also responsible for assisting the Advanced Practitioners in biopsies, ensuring the patient is as comfortable as possible. As a radiographer within the breast care unit, you work within a team of breast care nurses, radiologists and breast surgeons to provide the best patient care possible.”
Amalia says she enjoys supporting women’s health as it is something she feels passionately about. She said: “I love being able to assist within the patient care pathway from screening, to diagnosis, right through to post treatment care. As a mammographer working with patients going through emotionally challenging times, it is important to support their emotional wellbeing as well as their physical health.”
And on World Radiography Day, Amalia says she feels it is important to celebrate the role of a Radiographer. She said: “Often there are misconceptions around the role and the part we play within medical imaging. Advocating for our profession is important to encourage and inspire the next generation of radiographers to come.”
And she has some advice for anyone thinking of becoming a radiographer. She said: “Ensure to have a comprehensive understanding of the role, all the different avenues that you are able to pursue within your career, like breast imaging.”
Emily Austin is a radiographer at NCIC. Emily said she always wanted to work in healthcare but was unsure which role.
She said: “I went to a taster day at the University of Cumbria and one of their open days. I found that I liked the idea of a career in radiography. I then spent a day in the general x-ray department shadowing a Radiographer and decided to apply for the undergraduate diagnostic radiography degree at University of Cumbria. Once I had completed my degree, I went on to complete a post graduate certificate at University of Salford to become a mammographer and then further post graduate modules to become an Advanced Practitioner. I have been able to do this within three years of becoming a qualified Radiographer.
Emily works as an Advanced Practitioner in the breast unit at the Cumberland Infirmary. She said: “I perform a wide variety of procedures throughout the week. I perform mammograms in both screening and symptomatic clinics, I undertake three-dimensional (tomosynthesis) guided biopsies for those who have been recalled from their screening mammograms and or have been referred to the symptomatic clinic by their GP and I report on screening and annual mammograms. Once the mammograms have been reported, a group of Reporting Radiographers and Radiologists (including myself) discuss the patients who have been recalled and what further imaging they need.”
Emily says she enjoys being able to support patients through what can be a very emotional time. She said: “As we are a small department, patients often find comfort in seeing familiar faces and you have the opportunity to build a good relationship with them. I enjoy being able to follow the patient’s whole pathway - performing the mammograms, reporting the mammograms, performing the further imaging and biopsy if needed, following their case through the MDT and then performing annual mammograms if they have had surgery.”
Emily thinks radiography is a hidden profession which needs bringing into the limelight.
She said: “The majority of patients who come into the hospital will meet a radiographer at some point during their visit - even if they don't realise it!
“If anyone is thinking of becoming a Radiographer they should visit the department to get an idea of the day to day role. Ask lots of questions about the different areas of radiography that we can each specialise in - there is so many! There are many excellent opportunities to expand the Radiographers role and undertake advanced practice so it’s important that you have a good idea of all of the different aspects of a radiography and the route that you may want to take.”