A new Graduate Diploma of Mammography program being offered by Charles Sturt University (CSU) aims to ease the pressures from a radiographer workforce shortage and increased demand for BreastScreen services.
The Graduate Diploma of Mammography will produce allied health workers known as mammographic technologists.
The postgraduate course has been developed by CSU with BreastScreen Australia, the Australian Institute of Radiography and the federal Department of Health and Ageing.
Senior Lecturer in Medical Radiation Science Dr Kelly Spuur from the University’s School of Dentistry and Health Sciences said, “The new program is the first of its kind in Australia to educate and train mammographic technologists.
“It will provide an alternative model for training mammographic technologists who do not come from a radiography background.
“Previously, radiographers were the only people qualified to work in mammography, but our Graduate Diploma in Mammography will provide a pathway for graduates of health and science degrees to develop the knowledge and clinical skills to become a mammographic technologist.
“It is an unparalleled shift in education in the medical radiation sciences and I am very excited to be involved in the new program which will benefit Australian women. “Like other areas of the allied health workforce, the shortage of skilled workers has arisen as radiographers age and retire, leaving a significant skills gap. “This skills gap combined with the ageing population, which is increasing demand on services such as BreastScreen, has been a key driver for the development of the Charles Sturt University program.”
Dr Spuur specialises in mammographic imaging and has worked as a radiographer with both BreastScreen Australia and in private practice for over 20 years.
“Radiographers and now mammographic technologists play a fundamental role in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. "However, this role is not well understood,” she said.
“They are responsible for the consistent production of high quality mammographic images and may screen over 6 000 women annually. "When abnormalities are detected they are also responsible for follow up imaging and when required, operating stereotactic biopsy equipment. “Maintaining a well educated, high quality workforce is fundamental to the continuation of the national BreastScreen program and the early detection of breast cancer.
“This course has been designed to achieve both aims." It involves a high level of support from our clinical partners, including private radiology practices. "All the subjects include theory and workplace learning to optimise competence and confidence in mammographic imaging.”
The Graduate Diploma of Mammography will be offered over one year by distance education from 2014 through the University’s School of Dentistry and Health Sciences.