The radiography profession is built upon strong educational foundations which help ensure graduate radiographers have the required knowledge, skills, and competence to practise safely and effectively. Changing clinical practices, service needs, technological developments, regulatory changes, together with our growing professional evidence-base, all contribute to the need for our curricula to responsive and continually reviewed and enhanced. This study aims to explore similarities and differences in training curricula and follows a 2012 global survey on radiography education and more recent surveys undertaken by the European Federation of Radiographer Societies (EFRS).
An online questionnaire, based on previous EFRS education and clinical education surveys, which comprised of open and closed questions and consisted of sections designed to ascertain data on: type, level and duration of education programmes leading to an initial or pre-registration qualification in radiography/medical radiation practice, pre-clinical skill development and clinical placement within programmes. The survey was distributed via social media channels and through an international network of professional societies. Descriptive statistics are reported for most analyses while open questions were analysed thematically.
Responses were received from 79 individuals from 28 identified countries across four continents. This represented a total of 121 different pre-registration/entry level programmes offered across these institutions. While dedicated diagnostic radiography programmes were most common (42/121), almost one-third of programmes (40/121) offered two or more areas of specialisation within the curriculum. The average of total hours for clinical placement were 1397 h for diagnostic radiography programmes; 1300 h for radiation therapy programmes; 1025 h for nuclear medicine programmes; and 1134 h for combined specialisation programmes, respectively. Institutions provided a range of physical and virtual systems to support pre-clinical skills development.
Around the world, radiography programmes vary considerably in terms of their level, duration, programme type, pre-clinical and clinical training, use of simulation, and also in terms of class sizes, student/staff ratios, and graduate employment prospects. The ability of graduates to work independently in areas covered within their programmes varied considerably. While some changes around simulation use were evident, given the impact of COVID-19 it would be beneficial for future research to investigate if pre-clinical and clinical education hours or use of simulation resources has changed due to the pandemic.
Implications for practice
The heterogeneity that exists between radiography programmes presents a significant challenge in terms of the mutual recognition of qualifications and the international movement of the radiographer workforce.