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Radiation Protection Supervisor

Caroline discusses her role as a Radiation Protection Supervisor in her practice.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Caroline. Caroline is the head nurse at Smile Dental Practice and acts as RPS for the practice. Caroline, can you tell me about your role? How about starting with what RPS stands for. RPS stands for radiation protection supervisor. As the practice has local rules covering radiography, then an RPS is needed to supervise this work and ensure that the local rules are followed. So what exactly is involved? Well, simply put, I keep an eye on what the staff are doing when taking X-rays. The local rules include instructions to ensure that radiation doses to staff are restricted, so I check that these instructions are being followed.
And can you give me some examples of the kinds of things you’re checking? One example is that all staff must leave the room during radiography, so I’m looking to see that this is done. Another example is that signs must be placed on doors during radiography, so again, I check that these are in place and that staff have remembered to take them down at the end of the radiography session. So what happens if you find any problems? Luckily that doesn’t happen very often. Our team are well-trained in the correct procedures to follow for radiography. But if I did see someone not following the instructions, I would point it out to them and make them aware of the correct procedure.
This should be enough to sort the issue. But if a staff member continue to flout the rules, then I’d report it to our principal dentist. Caroline, can you tell us who can be an RPS? Anyone who can fulfil the requirements. That is, they need to be someone who can tell the staff doing the work what to do if necessary, and they need to be trained. In our group of practices, we have a variety of people in the role, dentists, nurses, and practice managers. So what are the training requirements for the RPS role?
The RPS needs to be trained in the relevant requirements of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017, understand the role of the RPS and what to do in the event of an incident or emergency. I did an online course to meet this requirement, and I will need to refresh this training every five years. So is being an RPS a full time job? How much time does it take you? No, it isn’t a full time job. I fit this in around my normal nursing duties. I work full time, so being in the practice every day means that it’s quite easy to see what is going on, as I am passing by the surgeries.
Occasionally, though, I do take time to go and specifically check on things, too, and I get assigned an amount of time to undertake my RPS duties. You mentioned you work full time, Caroline, but can someone who works part time be an RPS? The idea is that the RPS is around most of the time to supervise radiography work, so, no, it wouldn’t be enough to have a part time RPS. But that doesn’t stop a part time worker from being an RPS. The practice will just need to appoint more than one. This happened at another practice in our group. The RPS reduced her hours, so that meant an additional RPS had to be appointed.
And is there anything else involved in the role that we haven’t covered? Well, it isn’t something that I’ve had to put into practice, but I need to know what to do if something goes wrong. So what kind of thing could go wrong and what would you have to do about it? A member of staff might forget to leave the room, or an exposure might be started too soon, say while a member of staff is still setting up the patient. In these scenarios, I need to follow the contingency plan in the local rules. I would collect all the relevant information from the staff involved, things like where they were positioned and what the exposure settings were.
I would then contact our RPA, who’d help with the dose estimation and advise on what further actions may be necessary. Thanks very much, Caroline. So to finish, let’s recap. The role of the RPS is to supervise the work covered by the local rules. This involves making sure that staff follow the correct procedures when taking radiographs, and in addition to this, the RPS should know what to do when there is an incident involving X-rays. Did I get that right, Caroline? Yes, that’s correct. Well, thanks very much, Caroline. That’s been a really useful insight into the role of the RPS.

In this video, Caroline discusses her role as the Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS) within her practice.

She covers how she helps her colleagues comply with local guidelines on the use of radiation and what the role entails. Caroline reflects on suitable qualities for an RPS, the time commitment and the training requirements. She also discusses what she would do if something went wrong.

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Dental Radiography: Radiation Protection in Dental Practice

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