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Steve Harris changed careers – from the RAF to Therapeutic Radiographer

29th September 2020

When Steve left the RAF in 2004 he was looking for a role which would ensure stability and job satisfaction, a defined career path, some element of the technology usage he had enjoyed, and of course a reasonable level of pay!

He had researched several areas, and was considering careers such as being an electronics workshop engineer, calibration services tech and veterinary x-ray repair tech, but it was whilst having a minor operation in hospital that the idea of becoming a therapeutic radiographer came to mind; “I was talking to the radiographer about what she was doing and decided to investigate further, and was surprised at what careers were available. “Steve spoke with his local university and they arranged one-day placements in both therapeutic and diagnostic radiography departments so that he could make an informed choice about which path was right for him. From then on it was full steam ahead to his new career; “After confirming I had suitable equivalent qualifications, I applied, through the university admissions system, to Cranfield’s therapeutic radiography course and was accepted unconditionally.

The course was three years in duration and a mix of clinical placements and classroom time with exams at the end of each year, and clinical goals throughout placements. My placements were in three different cancer centres which gave me a broad perspective on treatment techniques and skills. It was very hard work at times, both physically and emotionally, but I graduated with a good degree and went straight into a job in the North of England.”

Steve’s work is very varied and there are many similarities between his two careers, including being part of a team with a common purpose, and the constant development of skills and techniques; “It changes every day, but the best things about being a therapeutic radiographer are the people we help, the other professionals I work with, and the satisfaction of being part of the team helping a very ill person and then seeing them up and about later knowing that you helped that happen. If you are leaving the armed forces and considering an allied health profession, look at the variety of professions, remember that your own skill set will be of benefit during training and work, and carry out placements if they are available.”

Step into Health provides an access pathway to careers in the NHS. For more information and to connect with local employers in your area please visit: www.militarystepintohealth.nhs.uk

Health Education England has spoken to a number of AHPs who have previously worked in the armed forces to develop a suite of video and written case studies to share their real experiences making their step into a career in the NHS. Find out more here https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/allied-health-professions/helping-ensure-essential-supply-ahps/making-step-health-case-studies

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