Why aren’t there more male therapeutic radiographers?
An initiative at Sheffield Hallam hopes to answer that question and increase the number of men who apply for radiotherapy courses, both locally and nationally.
Money from the Challenge Fund will support the initiative ‘Male therapeutic radiographers: Understanding and addressing barriers to higher education recruitment’, following a successful bid from the university for funding to support existing and new AHP students.
Therapeutic radiography and other disciplines have been identified as vulnerable because of decreasing recruitment and retention in higher education courses.
Joanna McNamara, senior lecturer and initiative lead, said, “During Science Week this year I saw more than 1000 students in schools and colleges and only two knew what a therapeutic radiographer was.
“This really highlighted the lack of awareness about the profession and particularly a lack of careers advice,” Joanna continued.
“Sheffield Hallam University trains almost a third of England’s therapeutic radiographers and we feel pressure to ensure we recruit to target as well as ensuring the quality of applicants being accepted on to the course, especially when attrition is still high nationally.”
She added, “As a team we looked at our current recruitment strategy to identify what factors were impacting on recruitment and were able to identify where there was under representation. It was apparent that less than 15% of the current cohort is male and we felt this should be explored.”
The initiative will be directed by the students. Focus groups will identify why they decided to enter the profession and the factors that influence their decision making, marketing resources will be created, and a recruitment strategy developed based on the findings. This will be piloted through school and college activity and university recruitment events. Sheffield Hallam hopes to see an increase in male applicants in 2019 and 2020.
The department successfully bid for £30,000, which has been matched by funding from the university. The money will be used to buy time for the project team, as well as to develop and pilot the marketing resources. Time to attend conferences to disseminate the project outcomes has also been factored into the project.
“We really hope this project will impact positively on recruitment and with a successful marketing strategy that will attract the right applicants, we hope that it also impacts positively on retention. Hopefully, the project findings will also be applicable to other healthcare professions with low male representation.”
The first focus groups will be held in September when the university’s new students begin their courses.
The Challenge Fund is part of the strategic interventions in health education disciplines (SIHED) programme, which will provide a total of £3 million funding over three years to national initiatives that support demand and improve student retention to enhance the sustainability of small, specialist and vulnerable pre-registration courses at higher education providers, including therapeutic radiography.