What do we have here?

First of all, happy World Radiography Day 2016!

I thought that I would celebrate by giving you a taste of the life of a student therapeutic radiographer on placement. An inside look of what we have to fill our pockets with every day.

From left to right:

  • FSD reader. When we set a patient we have to check the “Focus to Skin Distance” this means how far the radiation source is from the patient. The machine projects the distance (in cm) onto the skin and we use the card to help us see.
  • Notebook – there can be some interesting tips to pick up along the way which warrant writing down. We also have to take phone calls and pass on messages.
  • My name badge. We have high security as we work with lethal doses of radiation, I can’t get into any areas without my key card!
  • TLD (attached to lanyard). This is my dose badge. We have a limit of radiation exposure each year to ensure that we do not cause ourselves damage. It gets replaced every three months after our dose reading is checked.
  • 4 fine-tip, permanent pens. We tattoo patients, we give them a little dot (nothing extravagant). We use these dots to align the patient with lasers in the room. This ensures that the patient is in the right place and we will not give radiation dose to any healthy areas, which could have detrimental effects to the patient. We use these pens to make the tattoo slightly more visible when we turn off the lights!
  • Calculator – we often get some fiddly sums when we add the cumulative dose to the patient or calculate the dose.
  • Pens and pencils – to make notes and to fill in treatment sheets.
  • Ruler – when we align the tattoos to the lasers they can sometimes be slightly off. We ensure that we make the alignment before we match to the lasers. We also use it to ensure that breast patients’ chins are out of the radiation field so that it doesn’t receive dose. Furthermore, when we treat breast patients we use the ruler to ensure the radiation field covers where we have planned it to. We measure from the edge of the beam to the tattoo to ensure we cover the whole breast sufficiently.
  • 4 colour pen – the therapy rad’s most stolen possession! we use different colours on the patient treatment sheet for different parts. E.g. fraction (treatment) number, FSD, total dose, daily dose and monitor units. They also seem to go missing all too frequently!
  • Fob watch – a wrist watch isn’t allowed as it goes against infection control procedures.

I hope you’ve found my little insight interesting. It fills out my pockets to bursting! (Also when you sit down it all falls out and the ruler leaves a permanent bruise in your abdomen!)

Best wishes,



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