The Reason I Became a Diagnostic Radiographer

Matthew Southam is the Clinical Imaging Lead at AECC UC where he oversees our clinical imaging services. Matthew became a Diagnostic Radiographer in 2013. He has also worked for the NHS as a Diagnostic Radiographer and Clinical Specialist Sonographer. We spoke to Matt about why he became a Diagnostic Radiographer and the opportunities radiography students have at AECC UC.


So Matt, why did you become a diagnostic radiographer?

The reason I decided to become a diagnostic radiographer was that I wanted to do something to do with medicine, but I also felt I was quite technically minded and had an interest in technology.

Diagnostic radiography seemed to marry things up really well as I could satisfy my interest in technology but also got that patient care and patient interaction side of things as well.


What’s the difference between diagnostic radiography and therapeutic radiography and why are they important?

First of all, the role of a radiographer is really important throughout the patient journey. Around 95% of people who come into hospital will get contact with a radiographer, you just might not realise that’s who you have met.

Diagnostic radiography is all about diagnosing conditions with medical imaging, and radiotherapy involves the treatment of patients. We need to know what patients are dealing with in terms of the diagnostics, so we can appropriately give the right therapy.


What can you do with a degree in radiography?

The great thing about Radiography is there are a number of things you can go into. If you want to report plain film x-rays, CT scans, cross-section and MRI, or if you want to work in a team setting you can. There’s a pathway for everybody.

I think it’s a real strength on the profession that we’re able to take different people and different personalities and give everyone a role. I’ve not met many people that haven’t found something in this career that suits them.


Why is this a great course for aspiring radiographers?

This is a great course for aspiring radiographers because it gives you all of the tools you need to be a fantastic radiographer and prepares you for your future career. We make sure that all of the modalities within diagnostic radiography are explored within the course, and we give you opportunities to try those modalities out so when you qualify you already have an idea of what you’d like to do in your career.


What do student’s like most about the course?

Students love the amount of hands-on practical tutorials that we have. We’re able to have lots of tutorials within the clinical labs, meaning that when you get to placement you’re used to how the machine operates, what it’s like to position patients and how to alter the machine to suite the patient in front of them. Our students find that when they get on placement, they’re able to be a member of the team really quickly.

They also love being able to work within our Open Upright MRI Scanner and using our on-site ultrasound facilities and simulators.


What facilities will you have access to on this course?

You will be able to practice in a modern digital x-ray room, positioning student models and phantoms – one of which contains a real human skeleton. You will be able to use our virtual reality radiography software, to be able to learn the theory of positioning and applying radiation in a safe environment. You can utilise our on-site ultrasound scanners and simulators, work within our Open Upright MRI Scanner – which is one of 7 in the country. You will be able to use our hoists, positioning aids and many more other pieces of equipment that will prepare you for working in a clinical environment.


What placement opportunities are there on this course?

Currently we have three main placement sites. These include University Hospitals Dorset, the Isle of Wight and our own on-site clinical imaging and simulation facilities at AECC University College.

All of our placement sites give students a fantastic environment to gain the experience and expertise they need to be able to qualify as a Radiographer.


What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a radiographer?

I would say be enthusiastic, be interested and go in with a desire to learn and really improve things. Technology is expanding so quickly and there are so many different things to get involved in. Really take an interest in it, think about what you want to do and you will find something that you’ll find really interesting and satisfying and you’ll be able to help patients along the way.


Why should you apply to this course?

You should apply to this course if you’re a motivated professional in the making with a passion for delivering outstanding patient care and imaging. This is a fantastic environment to be able to give you the tools to success in your studies and in your career, with a unique University experience that has on-site clinics alongside our academic teaching.

Have you considered a career in Radiotherapy?

Find out more about the BSc (Hons) Radiology (Diagnostic Imaging) course at AECC UC


Watch our video 'Why become a Diagnostic Radiographer?'