Radiography Department Assistant
Radiography department assistants (RDAs) support radiographers. They work under the supervision of the radiographer. They look after patients when they arrive, keep rooms clean and tidy, help the radiographer to move and handle patients, develop X-rays and have clerical duties such as booking appointments.
Radiography Department Assistants (RDAs) work either with Diagnostic Radiographers, for example, using X-rays to diagnose health problems, or Therapeutic Radiographers, who use radiation to treat diseases, especially cancer.
As a RDA, you will have to make sure rooms and cubicles are clean, tidy and stocked with the right equipment before the patients arrive. Throughout the day, you'll check that clean gowns are available, prepare trolleys and dispose of used linen.
You will also clean and help to maintain image processing systems, and radiotherapy and diagnostic equipment.
RDAs greet patients when they arrive. You will listen to patients to understand their personal needs, explain clearly what will happen next, and reassure them if they are anxious.
You must assess each patient's ability to undress for an examination, helping them if necessary. It is important that you make sure the patient's privacy and dignity are respected at all times.
You will help Radiographers to move and handle patients, including from trolleys, beds and chairs, onto tables for treatment or diagnosis. You might use special lifting equipment to help you move some patients.
When the Radiographer has finished the examination or treatment session, you will continue to care for the patient. You'll give reassurance, for example, if the patient has to stay in hospital. You might also talk to patients' relatives and carers, giving them reassurance and information.
As a Radiography Department Assistant, you will also take patients around the hospital, for example, between wards and departments. You'll use trolleys and wheelchairs when you need to.
You will almost certainly have some clerical and administrative duties such as answering the telephone, booking appointments and photocopying.
As a RDA, you can progress, after more training and experience, to become Assistant Practitioners. At this level, you can increasingly do some of the tasks previously done only by qualified and registered Radiographers.
RDAs usually wear uniforms. You'll wear protective clothing, including, masks, gloves and lead-rubber aprons, where necessary.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Radiography Department Assistant, you'll need:
- a caring personality
- good communication skills
- the ability to get on with people of all ages and backgrounds
- patience, tact and sensitivity
- listening skills
- the ability to explain things clearly, to reassure anxious patients
- practical skills, for example, to clean and maintain equipment
- physical fitness - you'll spend most of the day standing, walking, and bending to help patients
- computer skills, for example, to book appointments
- a responsible attitude
- to follow strict health and safety procedures
- teamwork skills
While the success rates for treating certain types of cancer with radiotherapy are good, you will need emotional strength to cope with distressing situations. In diagnostic radiography, you might work with patients who are badly injured or being examined to detect serious illnesses.
Pay and Opportunities
NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting - Band 3: £18,813 - £20,795
- With experience - Band 4: £21,089 - £23,761
Hours of work
Radiography Department Assistants usually work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday.
Where could I work?
The NHS employs Radiography Department Assistants. Opportunities occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).
Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.
Take a look at our General Information Article
Entry Routes and Training
There are no set entry requirements to become a Radiography Department Assistant, but a range of GCSEs including English, maths and a science subject may help. Experience of working with or caring for people is also beneficial.
If you need to work out whether this job area is right for you, a health and social care course at school or college will give you some insight into working in healthcare.
An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. Take a look at our information article
Alternatively, you could apply directly for vacancies and then have on-the-job training.
Once you start working as a Radiography Department Assistant, it is likely that your employer will encourage you to take a qualification in clinical healthcare support. Things change fast within the health sector, so you’ll need to keep up-to-date with developments in radiography and health. There may be short training courses for you to attend.
If you hope to become an Assistant Practitioner with wider responsibilities, and if you have the support of your employer, you might be able to study part-time for a relevant foundation degree or other higher education qualification.
You could progress to become an Assistant Practitioner, doing many of the tasks that could once be done only by qualified and registered Radiographers. Assistant Practitioners can apply for accreditation through the Society of Radiographers.
Some NHS employers then enable experienced Assistant Practitioners to take part-time BSc degrees in radiography (diagnostic or therapeutic) to become Radiographers.
Some entrants have experience in related care posts, for example, working as a Healthcare Assistant.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.
This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
Any work experience where you care for others should also help.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some entrants have experience in related care posts, for example, working as a healthcare assistant.
You might be able to enter and train in this career through an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Clinical Healthcare Support, or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Health - Allied Health Profession Support.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
NHS Wales Careers
Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare
Step into the NHS
Tel: 0345 6060655
Skills for Health
Skills for the health sector
Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 9221155
University of Ulster
Tel: 028 7012 3456
Society of Radiographers
Address: 207 Providence Square, Mill Street, London SE1 2EW
Tel: 020 7740 7200
Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiation Therapy (IIRRT)
Address: 28 Millbrook Court, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
Tel: 0871 313795