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Behind the scenes: what it's like to work as a radiographer for BreastScreen Queensland

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Technician Ada stands in front of a mammography machine.
Ada has worked as a radiographer with BreastScreen Queensland for 17 years.

Ada has been a radiographer (the person in the room when you get your mammographic screening) for BreastScreen Queensland for 17 years. She spoke with us about her job working to help save the lives of Queensland women.

Who are the clients that you work with?

We invite Queensland women between 50 to 74 years of age to attend every second year. From the age of 75, women can still have a mammogram for free, but they don’t get a reminder from us.

We work with women with all different body types and shapes. We also work with ladies who have breast implants and who use wheelchairs.

What happens after a woman comes for her breast screen appointment?

After the digital images are taken, they are sent to a central unit where two radiologists report on the images. They compare the images with previous studies and look for any changes. If it’s all clear, the results are provided to the woman within 2 weeks of the appointment either by post or through her BreastScreen Queensland online account.

If the radiologists need more information to confirm results, they will call the client to explain and will then make an appointment to do more assessments, such as ‘Tomosynthesis’ on our new machine and an ultrasound of the region of interest.

If the client needs a biopsy guided by ultrasound or with stereotactic technique it will be arranged that day.

What do you like best about your job?

I love my job because I get to interact with at least 23 clients each day. Every client has a different personality and story to tell.

I also enjoy working as part of a team. There is a big assessment team involved: receptionist, volunteers to make the clients feel at ease, radiographers, sonographers, clinical nursing staff, medical officers, radiologists, surgeons and pathologists, just to name a few.

It is really rewarding to know that we actually can find even a tiny breast cancer and then it can be treated to have a positive outcome for a client. Early detection is our aim.

What study and training have you done?

You can study a 4 year radiography course at university, and then do an extra course to be accredited to do mammography called a Certificate of Clinical Proficiency in Mammography. I did my radiography training in South Africa, and then moved to the Netherlands where I also did training in radiotherapy.

Then I moved to Australia and worked in several places. I did my mammography course in Brisbane and have been working for BreastScreen Queensland for 17 years in a part time position.

At BreastScreen Queensland we do Continuing Professional Education. To stay accredited, each year we have to attend meetings and accredited courses, do readings and learn about new equipment.

How do women make an appointment to have a breast screen?

When a client wants to come for a breast screen she can either ring BreastScreen Queensland on 13 20 50 or go online to make a booking.

Most women book in when they get a letter from BreastScreen Queensland asking them to make an appointment.

Read more about having a breast screen

Why you should take the time to have a breast screen

Scared of having a breast screen?

5 reasons why you should book your breast screen

Why can’t I get a free mammogram if I’m under 40?

Many thanks to Ada, and the team at BreastScreen Queensland, for sharing her story.

Last updated: 28 August 2018