The University of Cumbria are leading change in the delivery and study of diagnostic radiology and have invested over £2 million on new state of the art digital imaging equipment at their Carlisle and Lancaster campuses. Additionally, from 2017 they will be the first university in the UK to change the way in which the courses are structured and delivered to reflect the current challenges facing the profession (subject to validation). Currently students study a three-year, full-time course leading to a BSc (Hons) but from 2017 students could have the option to complete just two years study which will enable them to work as Assistant Radiographers. Those students who opt to study in the final year will be able to choose specialist modules such as MRI or CT. Hopefully these changes will better prepare students for the ever advancing clinical workplace.
A good medical imaging and radiology service is essential to our healthcare system but there is currently a national shortage of radiologists, radiographers and technologists and an ever increasing demand for complex imaging. Perhaps more than any other clinical speciality, diagnostic imaging has been transformed in the past thirty years by rapid advances in technology and digital imaging techniques. A speciality which has been mainly based on film now uses computers to generate images, which literally provide a window into any part of the body making radiology the key diagnostic tool for many diseases and for monitoring treatment and predicting outcomes.
With new knowledge in imaging being developed at an increasingly rapid rate, the field of radiology is expanding dramatically. Its pivotal role in modern clinical care has led to an increase in demand particularly for complex imaging specialist including CT and MRI scans.
Rachel Newcombe, Clinical Lecturer-Diagnostic Radiography, said “It was the case that a radiographer would mainly be involved in producing x-rays and our course reflected this, with the major focus of the three years being on planar x-ray imaging. It is increasingly the case however, that a radiographer is expected to be able to carry out a number of other imaging techniques, CT and MRI for example. Traditionally radiographers would work for a few years before being expected to ‘broaden’ their role, with on the job training for the other modalities being given. It is becoming much more common for radiographers to go straight into these other modalities from qualifying, and never carrying out traditional imaging.”