Diagnostic Radiographer

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Diagnostic radiographers are responsible for producing medical images that assist medical specialists and practitioners to describe, diagnose, monitor and manage patients’ injury or disease.  Diagnostic radiographers operate a range of imaging equipment such as X-ray, Magnetic Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasound. More specifically, diagnostic radiographers may use computed tomography (CT) equipment which produces cross-section images of the body, fluoroscopy equipment which produces a moving image of the target area, and angiography equipment which produces blood vessel images.

 

Tasks performed include:

  • determining which imaging techniques to use to give the most accurate diagnostic information for the treating doctor
  • calculating details such as intensity and length of exposure, and determining the position of the patient and the equipment, to produce the best images and ensure patient safety
  • interacting with patients to explain procedures, addressing any of their concerns about the process, and to ensure they are correctly prepared for the procedure

 

Diagnostic radiographers are employed in public and private hospitals and health clinics as well as in private radiography practices. Within hospitals, diagnostic radiographers typically work in a radiography department but may also perform mobile procedures in other parts of the hospital or work in operating theatres. Diagnostic radiographers may work as part of a multidisciplinary team as well as within radiography teams.

 

A degree in medical radiation science together with clinical experience gained through either a Professional Development Year Program (PDY) or National Professional Development Programme (NPDP) is required to practice as a radiographer in Australia. These programs are offered by public and private health institutions throughout Australia and graduates need to compete to gain a position within one. Accreditation may also be gained through the completion of a degree that includes the same level of experience and learning offered in a PDY or NPDP.  Further information about national accreditation licensing requirements can be found on the Australian Institute of Radiography website. Continuous education and professional development is an essential element to this profession.

 

Modalities of practice include:

 

Mammography

Mammography is a specialised imaging technique that uses low dose x-rays to acquire very detailed images of breast tissue. Mammography is used for general screening of breast tissue, localisation and assessment of breast lumps, and guidance for interventional investigation of breast lesions.

Qualified Radiographers who have studied an AIR accredited mammography course can gain a Certificate of Clinical Proficiency in Mammography (CCPM), of which there are two levels. The CCPM certification is for 5 years and holders of the certificate may also apply for the Advanced Breast Imaging Certificate (ABIC).

 

CT (Computed Tomography)

The computed tomography (CT) scan is a medical imaging procedure that uses x-rays and digital computer technology to create cross-section images of the body. It can image every type of body structure at once including bone, blood vessels and soft tissue.

CT has undergone significant technical advancements since its introduction. Due to these increases in technology as well as the advancing role of radiographers, the AIR has begun the implementation of a two level CT certification program, including intermediate and advanced practitioner levels, which are obtained through additional training and years of experience.

 

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging technique that uses magnetic fields and radiofrequency waves to acquire very detailed images of the body.

MRI accreditation is available at two levels, Level 1 and Level 2.  To gain a Level 1 accreditation an examination has to be successfully undertaken, as well as a defined number of credentialed patient examinations. Level 2 is gained by written application, a defined number of examinations and a minimum amount of time spent in MRI.