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11.3. Consultant Radiographer Case Study 1

I trained as a therapeutic radiographer at the Glasgow School of Radiotherapy in 1982 obtaining the DCR (T). In those days, I was not interested in university or academia. As radiographers, we learned ‘on the job’ and through experience.

I worked as a radiographer and then senior radiographer before taking a 6-year break to look after my children. During these years, 1994 to 2000, I went to ‘night school’ and studied basic computer packages and counselling skills as well as completing an HNC in special educational needs. I worked for a year as a support assistant in a school and then as a data coordinator in a clinical research organisation.

I returned to radiotherapy in 2000 as a radiographer at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow. Changes were happening; we had verify and record systems, dynamic wedges and MLC. The principles and techniques of radiotherapy had not changed and I was able to pick up the new technology quickly. In 2003, I became an information and support radiographer. Before leaving the Beatson in 2005 to work at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, I had obtained two MSc modules. 

I became a consultant radiographer in June 2008. My speciality was gynaecological oncology and the first year in post was to be a training period. This was to enable me to develop the specialist clinical knowledge required for the post. I worked with the multi-disciplinary team and the clinical oncologist as well as coordinating the introduction of the new HDR brachytherapy service. 

When I accepted this post, I was awarded an honorary contract with Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. I found I enjoyed lecturing to students and taking part in journal clubs and seminars with them. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with them. I have been a member of the validation committee for the postgraduate diploma in radiotherapy and have taken part in the validation process.

The hardest thing for me about education is my own studying. I completed my MSc in radiotherapy in 2011 and it was toil, mainly because I tend to work to deadlines and I am a very good procrastinator. However, I was extremely proud of my achievement.

I no longer work with the gynaecology team and my remit has changed somewhat. In the past couple of years, I have developed and delivered anatomy and basic radiobiology teaching for our physics technicians. I am the lead on education and development for radiographers and have completely restructured our training packages. I am also active within the radiographers’ CPD committee and enjoy encouraging and inspiring radiographers to develop their potential and promote the profession of radiotherapy. I believe in sharing practice and hope to organise a Scottish radiographers’ shared practice event in the next few months. For me education is key to best practice as well as personal development. We are all educators in a way!

Marie McCabe, Consultant Therapeutic Radiographer, Edinburgh Cancer Centre

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