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Developing a workforce fit for the future - Revolution or evolution?

6 July, 2020

The Workforce Development session at UKIO Online 2020 looked at ways in which radiographer roles and areas of clinical practice could change, to meet not only student expectations, but the overall challenges of providing a healthy, happy and fulfilled workforce of the future, ready to provide patients with a gold standard radiography service.

Down with the kids

Challenging the assumption that advanced practice in interventional radiology in a paediatrics setting is just too difficult and the children too small to be safely treated, Emma Rose, clinical specialist radiographer (CSR) at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), spoke to delegates about the decision to train a CSR and the departmental study to assess if training radiographers to undertake paediatric IR procedures is feasible, and if it provides benefits to patients.

“We felt that a radiographer could be trained in this setting and with the correct supervision could practice safely and effectively. The development of the role at GOSH has been so successful that the hospital has now employed a second CSR in the department,” Emma said.

Key take-aways:

  • Training feasible but there is an initial investment
  • Reduced patient waiting times
  • Overall cost-savings
  • Improved patient contact
  • Career progression outside management roles
  • Increased job satisfaction

What’s not to like?

Student radiographers, their current career aspirations, and how these will impact on the future workforce, was the topic of David Palmer’s presentation. He looked at the results of an online survey of students who are currently studying in a diagnostic training programme.

A third year student at Sheffield Hallam University, David told delegates that the results revealed students did not find working in mammography, DEXA or nuclear medicine very appealing, and more female students were drawn to ultrasound than males, risking future gaps in the workforce.

Main recommendations/conclusions of the study:

  • Further research is needed to understand why gaps are forming and how best to address them
  • Why are some areas of radiography more popular than others?
  • Potential future workforce gaps in DEXA, SPECT and PET scanning and mammography identified
  • Male roles should be explored in mammography

Building a standard

A study looking at the wording of job advertisements for advanced practitioner radiographers was presented by Martine Harris, research radiographer at Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, entitled ‘How do we define advanced practice roles - a document analysis of UK job descriptions’.

Key conclusions:

  • Only a third of advanced roles map to the capabilities of the multiprofessional advanced clinical practice framework
  • The deployment of radiographers as ‘true’ advanced clinical practitioners therefore remains intermittent
  • The use of radiographer skills to provide a diagnostic and actionable report is widespread and impacts service delivery
  • Study findings should initiate discussion both within the profession and further afield

Simply the best

Sonographers’ pride in their job and desire to be the best that they can be may be putting them at risk of significant musculoskeletal disorders, which will ultimately impact negatively on both their work and personal lives, said Gareth Bolton, presenting his study, The personal impact of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) on sonographers.

Senior lecturer and ultrasound programme leader at the University of Cumbria, Gareth has carried out a small study of experienced sonographers as part of his PhD research.

Key findings

Participants acknowledged their roles as professionals as well as individuals, including commitment to a broader altruistic model that reinforced their identities as good healthcare professionals.

“The personal self provides a useful analytical framework for understanding the everyday feelings of sonographers towards the phenomenon of work related musculoskeletal disorders. Further research will be completed as part of my PhD research,” said Gareth.

Watch the Workforce Development presentations and access recording of all UKIO Online 2020 sessions.

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