Day in the life of…a diagnostic radiographer

Jodie Say is at the start of an 8.30am shift at the University Hospital of North Tees and when I walk in to meet her she is already treating her first patient.

“Please breathe in, hold your breath…and breathe out”, she says.

She will be based in the hospital’s x-ray department where she will treat patients and pick up any requests.

Jodie has a quick catch up on one of the department computers, checking for other incoming patient requests added to the system. These come from a number of different groups of staff – including doctors, nurse practitioners and physiotherapists. They can also be referred in from GPs.

Jodie explains: “All of the radiographers on duty today will be responsible for certain areas and will treat patients in those areas.

“Some people may not realise that we are continuously treating patients across the hospital and in locations across Stockton, Hartlepool and Peterlee, not just in the x-ray department here.”

A look at the white board in the main x-ray area shows just where each staff member will be that day.

It includes orthopaedics, lung health, trauma and spinal, urology, endoscopy and urgent care. And that’s just at the University Hospital of North Tees. There’s then the University Hospital of Hartlepool, One Life Hartlepool and the Peterlee Community Hospital.

It’s a significant challenge taken on by a committed and dedicated team of staff who work across multiple sites.

Jodie continues: “Sometimes patients are too frail or too sick to be treated in x-ray. In these cases, we have a portable x-ray machine which we can take to clinical areas. It’s something which means we can be anywhere. It’s almost impossible to predict how long you may take treating a patient.”

It’s something that is clear within just a short time following Jodie around.

That morning she visits patients in the main operating theatre and the theatre in the Leven day case unit, while also treating a five month baby in the children’s ward and a patient in accident and emergency.

Back in the x –ray department that morning it is equally busy.

A 15 minute snapshot gives you an idea: Jodie returns from theatre, gets changed from theatre scrubs back into her uniform, quickly goes to x-ray an elderly female patient who is experiencing groin pain. Following this, she calls the porters to transport the patient. She then takes a phone call from a doctor to discuss some feedback and analysis on an earlier x-ray. After this, she then x-rays a young boy’s pelvis before going to the children’s ward!

Jodie adds: “No shift is ever the same as the last. It’s one of the things which makes the job so interesting and rewarding.”

The department is even busier than normal this particular week, with the sound of maintenance workers in the background.

Over the previous weekend, a new CT scanner was delivered to the department – a logistical challenge which involved closing off an area outside the hospital so that the scanner could be lifted into the department by crane.

Along with the existing two scanners, the new Edge scanner is faster and more high-tech than the scanner it replaced and means the department will continue to provide the very best care to its patients.

The works do, though, mean the department is facing an extra challenge that week, but thanks to work carried out by the appointments team to rearrange patient lists, the department has been able to continue to function effectively that week.

After a lunch break in the staff area, it’s back into x-ray and on to the next patient. An older man who has chest pain.

“Can you tell me your date of birth? Breathe in, hold, and breathe away normally. All done.”

Then it’s a quick call to the porters to collect the patient and then on to next patient.

Jodie’s next two patients are ones who are more of challenge to get clear images of, due to the nature of their injuries. There’s an adjustment here and a rotation there. ‘Are you comfortable like that? Nice and still now Jean, last one. All done’.

The afternoon also includes a trip to the critical care unit with the mobile scanner for images of a very poorly patient.

Then it’s back to x-ray to treat several more patients and to help CT staff move a patient on to the scanner using a PAT slide.

Jodie concludes: “I am really passionate about working in the NHS and helping make a difference to the patients I treat.

“As a department we continuously work hard to provide the highest quality of care we can to our patients.

“Radiology work alongside the majority of departments in the trust helping in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

“It is at the heart of modern medicine and is ever changing and rapidly developing. Radiographers now are more skilled than ever before and are able to take on an increasing number of duties that were previously only carried out by radiologists. It’s a really exciting time to be a radiographer.

“I am naturally a very caring person. I’ve always wanted to have a career where I am combining that side with my interest in technology. Being a radiographer allows me to combine both of these things.

“It’s a really interesting and challenging job with a fantastic team of colleagues. I feel like I can make a real difference in this role.”




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