Warning: doom and gloom
I've worked as a radiographer for over 11 years and cannot recommend the job anymore
To lay out some positives, yes it is interesting, yes it is an important job, yes you absolutely can make a difference to patient's experiences, and yes it's a very secure job with lifelong career prospects - and a decent pension if you go NHS.
And now for the but...
There's no care for quality of work. It's all about getting as many patients in and out of the room as quickly as possible. My colleague's interest in the technical and pathology side of things has disappeared, and there's no opportunity for CPD as there are too many patients to see. Demand ever increases, waiting time targets get ever tighter, and inevitably you cut corners to keep up.
If you work somewhere that requires nights, the shift patterns can be awful. Quite often people where I work will get 3 nights and then immediately back into day shifts. No chance to recover and they feel dreadful all week, often coming down ill at the end.
You get paid less every year. There are increments in each band and generally getting to band 6 is quite straightforward after two years. However once you reach the top of the band you get below inflation pay rises every year, which means you are paid less the longer you work, even if you pick up more skills.
In spite of this, registration fees go up consistently above inflation. We've just had HCPC renewals come through and need to pay £232 for the privilege of continuing to work. This is over double what I paid when I first started and yet the bottom of band 5 has only gone from 21k to 28k in that time. One of the conditions of registration is you have indemnity insurance. The Society of Radiographers offers this and is the main union for radiographers in the UK. They take £25 a month and are absolutely useless. They consistently fail to represent radiographers or promote radiography but I have to pay them in order to stay registered. Their Facebook page routinely advertises for radiographers to move to New Zealand!
I work in MRI and CT and there's a general push to run scanners with 1 radiographer and an assistant rather than 2 radiographers. This means you have to work harder with more stress, shoulder more responsibility, and there are certain things an assistant can never do, which means you never have the opportunity to train colleagues to make the work more level. And of course you don't get paid any more for doing this.
I work in an acute hospital setting. Thanks to the brilliant idea of opening up community diagnostic centres (CDCs), lots of radiographers have left the acute setting to see easier patients. 95% of the patients I see now are more complex - either in their presentation (physical disability, learning disability, dementia, etc) or in the type of imaging they require. I enjoy the more complex imaging which is why I stay, but I don't get paid any more for doing it - I could work 3 days on a van scanning spines and knees and turning away anyone that requires extra help, but I don't think this is right and would not want to be in that situation. If we all wanted an easy life the tricky patients wouldn't have anyone to see them.
Nursing and other AHP collegues have no idea what we do. When I went to uni I spent 2 weeks working with nurses to see what they do day to day. It was interesting. Do nurses spend any time in radiology when they train? No, and they have absolutely no understanding of why we ask for certain things when their patients need to come for imaging. It is a constant argument and we are regularly accused of being obstructive. This is very demoralising when all we are trying to do is the best for patients.
There is a ceiling to how far you can progress. This varies from very low to half decent, depending on where your interests lie and what you are good at, but the most money comes from management and sales, neither of which you need a radiography degree or clinical experience to do.
It is phyically taxing and you spend a lot of time moving overweight patients, dodgy hospital beds, and ancient x-ray kit around. Bad backs are commonplace.
Doom and gloom over. Maybe I'll come back on another day and change my mind, but the downhill trend has been going on a while and now sign of slowing down