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11 July 2013

The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) has published a report which aims to improve the retention of the radiotherapy workforce.

The issue of attrition from training placements for therapeutic radiographers has been a challenge for many years.

During 2010/11, attrition from pre-registration therapeutic radiography programmes was more than a third (36.5%). 

Dissatisfaction with practice placements was the most frequently reported reason why students did not complete their programme. Wrong career choice was also cited.

The SCoR report, produced by Hazel Colyer, was commissioned by the National Cancer  Action Team,  for the National Radiotherapy Implementation Group's Workforce sub-group.

Key recommendations within the guidance are relevant to Health Education England, local education commissioners, higher education providers, radiotherapy centres and the Society and College itself.

As the report states: “If the project objectives are to be met and attrition reduced, it is vital that these [recommendations] are viewed as a whole and implemented without delay.”

The recommendations include: 

• The opportunity for a clinical visit must be made available by centres prior to any offer of a place on a pre-registration therapeutic radiography programme.

• All the provisions of the service level agreement (SLA) [between radiotherapy services and education providers] should be utilised to ensure that student education and support is prioritised appropriately by staff at all levels in the organisations.

• The full range of placement opportunities in the radiotherapy centre and across the patient pathway must be utilised to ensure a comprehensive experience.

• An early, developmental placement to clarify the student role and develop an individual action plan that enables a personalised approach to student learning and support should be devised.

• Preparation for placement must be realistic and include VERT-based practical skills, relationship skills and emotional resilience.

• Students should be assigned a suitably prepared mentor who has received training or update in student support and assessment within the past 12 months.

Speaking about the issues facing the radiotherapy workforce, and in particular the role of practice placements, Charlotte Beardmore comments: “The radiotherapy workforce faces immense challenges ahead, including ensuring that advanced radiotherapy is available to every patient that would benefit, and being in a position to deliver proton therapy when that comes on stream in 2017-2018.

"We will only have a sufficient workforce if we maximise student retention and that means making sure that practice placements provide the support and education students’ need such that they no longer report ‘dissatisfaction with practice placements.’

Professor Audrey Paterson, Director of Professional Policy at the SCoR, adds: “This very important piece of work is the culmination of 18 months of work which has closely examined the issues around attrition from therapeutic radiotherapy training programmes in England.

“We thank the project steering group and, in particular, Hazel Colyer for taking on this project. Without doubt, Hazel has done an excellent job and the critical but supportive involvement of radiotherapy service providers, higher education programme leaders and therapeutic radiography students has played a vital role in ensuring the report’s recommendations are evidenced based and robust.”

View and download the report.

Notes for Editor

For further information contact Emma Abbott on 01795 542438 or 07815 189897.

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