First Valerie Carr Award bursary recipient registers as Therapeutic Radiographer

Rhiannon Thomas, who received the bursary three years ago, has now completed her studies and entered a role in radiotherapy

Published: 01 May 2024 Awards

The first Valerie Carr Award recipient has now registered with the HCPC and begun a role as Therapeutic Radiographer, marking the success of the bursary.

Run by the College of Radiographers, the Valerie Carr Award supports individuals to study and graduate in therapeutic radiography in England and Wales, and was awarded for the first time ever in 2021.

Rhiannon Thomas used the bursary provided by the award to complete a pre-registration postgraduate diploma in radiotherapy and oncology at Liverpool University,

Before this, she was a specialist radiation and medical oncology veterinary nurse responsible for patient care and anaesthetic management in the radiotherapy department.

'Vast skillset'

Ms Thomas said her interest in radiation as a treatment modality grew as she observed other Therapeutic Radiographers’ depth of knowledge and “vast skillset.”

She added: “I was drawn to the diversity in the role from technical proficiency to the empathy demonstrated in patient and client care. As someone who relishes continued learning and development, the opportunity to work within an evidence based, progressive industry whilst enabling me to utilise my clinical and patient/client care skills was hugely attractive.

“I am extremely grateful to have received the Valerie Carr Award in support of my studies, allowing me to pursue a new career path by eliminating the financial barrier in returning to academia fifteen years after completing my undergraduate degree.”

Removing financial and psychological stress

Ms Thomas emphasised the “profound” impact the award had in allowing her to be self-sufficient with day-to-day living costs and rental commitments.

“Having the bursary eliminated a large proportion of financial and psychological stress. It allowed me to minimise ongoing student debt and permitted me the time required to focus on my studies and achieve a distinction. Without the support I would have had to maintain a greater frequency of part-time working, and with the intensity of the full-time postgraduate schedule I would have struggled to commit as much time to the course to achieve such a strong academic outcome. 

“The effect of the Valerie Carr award became more evident with the cost-of-living crisis which saw my outgoing expenses rise considerably. If I hadn’t been a recipient, I fear I may have had to postpone or curtail my study and I am hugely grateful that this was not the case.”

'An honour and a privilege'

Ms Thomas was recently accepted onto the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a fully qualified radiographer, and is settling into her new job in the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool.

She is already building on her postgraduate skills and finds it “hugely rewarding” to go to work every day.

She said: “[I] am even slightly surprised at how much pride I find in my role. It is an honour and a privilege to provide care for our patients and I am glad to provide a positive and compassionate service to people during one of the hardest times in their lives.

“Thank you for allowing me to develop a new career path. I hope that going forward my work and professional development in radiotherapy continues to reflect the spirit of the Valerie Carr award.”

'UK desperately needs more Therapeutic Radiographers'

The award has now opened its fourth annual application round. Funded by a charitable legacy, the VCA furthers radiotherapy education and training through a student bursary programme. Applications will close at 2pm on 30 September 2024.

Individuals in Wales and England whose circumstances would otherwise prevent them from becoming Therapeutic Radiographers are eligible, and up to five awards are made each year.

Recipients have their tuition fees paid for up to three years in England, and in Wales are offered substantial grants.

Charlotte Beardmore, executive director of professional policy at the SoR, said: “The UK desperately needs more Therapeutic Radiographers and this bursary is a wonderful opportunity for eligible individuals interested in a fulfilling professional career. It may be of particular interest to those who’ve seen first-hand the positive impact of Therapeutic Radiographers and the radiotherapy they deliver.”

To find out if you are eligible to apply, click here.