Purpose\ud The aim of this study was to measure the competence of one national (United Kingdom) cohort of newly qualified therapeutic radiographers (n = 62) following completion of their undergraduate training programme and examine skills and characteristics which might indicate future career development.\ud \ud Method\ud Questionnaires comprising 14 assessable skill areas/characteristics were sent to all UK radiotherapy departments. Each department agreeing to participate in the study identified the number of staff who were eligible and agreed to take part. The 14 assessable areas were completed by senior therapeutic radiographers with a working knowledge of the radiographer being assessed. Assessment grades were allocated to each skill/characteristic using a validated set of performance descriptors.\ud \ud Conclusion\ud Analysis of the levels of competence achieved demonstrated that the majority (59/62) of newly qualified therapeutic radiographers were judged by senior staff to be competent in clinical practice, although many responders commented that newly qualified staff benefited greatly by an additional period of post-registration supervision in order to consolidate clinical skill development.\ud \ud A small number of radiographers (n = 6) were judged to be highly competent. They achieved grades which were indicative of an exceptionally high standard across all 14 skill areas. The skills and characteristics demonstrated by this subset include adaptability, a well-placed self-confidence, high level of clinical skill and evidence of effective critical thinking and reflection.\ud \ud This first post-registration year is a critical time for future career development. Those lacking in confidence to deal with patients or operate equipment or those requiring additional clinical support must be supported and mentored in order to achieve the required levels of competence. Those radiographers, who clearly demonstrate high standards of competence and possess skills more usually seen with experience, should be encouraged and supported early in their careers to maximise their potential across the range of career pathways within the profession
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