Making the switch; from policeman to diagnostic radiographer within 2 years

14 September 2009

Gone are the days of a 'career for life,' with the average person today predicted to change careers an average of three to five times during their lifetime. For some it's not an overly significant shift, but for Chris Slattery, a move from policing to diagnostic radiography meant he was in for a bit of a change.

Chris Slattery wanted to be a police officer right throughout high school.

After graduating from the Academy, Chris was posted to Griffith, seven hours away from home, his family and group of friends. Even though he enjoyed the role and was starting to settle in, it was only six months before Chris began to realise that the career path and lifestyle he had chosen was not as satisfying as he had hoped it would be. "I completed a Bachelor of Policing to have something to fall back on if I didn't find policing a career I wanted to pursue," he said.

Luckily for Chris, and other recent graduates in a similar situation, he was not limited in his options once he made the decision to change the direct on his career. Chris decided to pick up on his interest in health and wellbeing, and with a little bit of inspiration from his father, a radiographer, he enrolled in a Master of Diagnostic Radiography at the University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences.

An undergraduate Bachelor degree, regardless of the area of study, can be the gateway to an entire new world of career opportunities in the field of health. Not only that, but undertaking postgraduate study at the Faculty of Health Sciences leads to a qualification from one of the world's leading health research institutions.

Chris Slattery went from a career in policing to studying diagnostic radiography
Chris Slattery went from a career in policing to studying diagnostic radiography

And it doesn't take forever, either. His police badge will barely have gathered dust before Chris will become a qualified diagnostic radiographer. Associate Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Stephanie Short points out that the two-year Graduate Entry Master's programs make an ideal choice for recent graduates and older people looking for a career change. In an rough economic time where job security and a stable income are increasingly important, further study in health can lead to a fulltime qualification in two years.

One surprise since studying within the health sciences for Chris has been learning about the percentage of incidence and occurrence of diseases. While he enjoys the opportunity he has been given to potentially improve the health of thousands of people, the statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the demand for health practitioners.

Short, a former practicing physiotherapist highlights that demands on health industry translate to job security and good employment prospects for students considering postgraduate study in the field. "Despite other industries suffering from the global financial crisis, recent data shows that eighty-six per cent of our Health Science students were employed in their chosen field within six months", she said.

Keeping up to date with surgery techniques and technological advancements within his field is important to Chris, as his main interest is theatre radiography. He doesn't deny that returning to university as a mature age student is a different experience, but stresses that this is a positive factor.

"You have had a grasp of the real world," he said, "experience of the world is what makes you understand how different one persons' situation can be from another".