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  • A woman, wearing a medical uniform, is standing behind a seated woman. She is measuring the seated woman's head, using a tape measure and pencil.

    Measuring a patient's head for EEG (electroencephalogram) recording.

  • A man, wearing a medical uniform, is sitting in front of a computer.  The computer is attached to various pieces of medical equipment.  The man is using the equipment to carry out tests on the arm of a woman who is sitting in front of him.

    Carrying out a nerve conduction study for carpal tunnel testing (carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling or pain in the thumb and fingers).

  • A woman, wearing a medical uniform, is standing next to a seated woman.  She is placing electrodes on the woman's head.

    Placing electrodes on a patient's head.

  • A woman, wearing a medical uniform, is sitting in front of a computer, which is connected to a piece of medical equipment.  In the background, a woman is lying on a couch.

    Recording an EEG.

  • A man and a woman are looking at a computer screen.  Various pieces of medical equipment stand around them.

    Discussing a patient's data with a consultant.

  • A woman is lying on a hospital bed.  She is wearing black goggles, which are plugged into a machine.  A man, wearing a white medical uniform, is sitting next to her.  He is looking at a monitor.

    Recording visual evoked potentials.

  • Three women, wearing white medical uniforms, are sitting in a row, at a desk. They are all using a computer.

    Analysing EEG waveforms.

  • Clinical Neurophysiologist

Clinical Neurophysiologist

Introduction

Neurophysiologists set up and use equipment to monitor the electrical activity of the brain and the central and peripheral nervous systems. These tests help doctors to investigate problems such as epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve disorders.

Also known as

  • Medical Technical Officer - Neurophysiology
  • Physiological Measurement Techn. - Neurophysiology
  • Electroencephalography Technologist
  • Clinical Physiologist - Neurophysiology

Work Activities

As a Clinical Neurophysiologist, you will use equipment to record the electrical activity of the brain and the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Your will investigate problems such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve disorders, decide on treatment and monitor patients' progress.

You'll do a number of tests and investigations, using different equipment.

  • electroencephalogram (EEG) records the brain's electrical activity. Neurophysiologists can use this test to investigate different types of epilepsy, inflammation of the brain and other neurological disorders.
  • evoked potentials are electrical changes in the central nervous system, produced in response to stimulating certain nerve pathways. Neurophysiologists use these tests to investigate diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis.
  • nerve conduction studies test and investigate the electrical changes in the peripheral nervous system that are produced by electrical stimulus. Neurophysiologists use these tests to investigate patients with peripheral nerve damage.
  • electromyography (EMG) helps Doctors to record the activity of skeletal muscle, which can help to investigate muscle diseases such as motor neurone disease.

Neurophysiologists are also involved in sleep studies and long-term monitoring of people with epilepsy.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Clinical Neurophysiologist, you'll need:

  • to enjoy science and be interested in people's health
  • technical skills to use complex equipment
  • practical skills to place electrodes on patients
  • the ability to support and reassure nervous or distressed patients
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • teamwork skills to work with Doctors, Nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • the ability to deal with ill people of all ages in a professional manner

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. Clinical Neurophysiologists salary level is the same as that for Doctors.

Doctors in training earn a basic salary, with a supplement if they work more than 40 hours a week and/or work outside 7 am-7 pm.

  • Foundation year 1: £27,146
  • Foundation year 2: £31,422
  • Doctors starting training: £37,191 - £47,132
  • Specialist Doctors: £39,060 - £72,840
  • Consultants earn £77,913 - £105,042

Hours of work

Clinical Neurophysiologists usually work a 37-hour week, Monday to Friday. Some need to work shifts on a rota or on-call basis. Part-time work may be available.

Where could I work?

Employers include the NHS, private hospitals and the armed forces.

Opportunities for Neurophysiologists occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on the NHS Jobs website, in local/national newspapers and on job boards.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

So, how do you become a Clinical Neurophysiologist?

The path involves training to become a Doctor, and then specialising.

Firstly, you'll need to demonstrate your motivation, and show that you have a realistic understanding of what this role involves. Work experience, such as shadowing doctors and other healthcare staff, or maybe working in a care environment (such as a care home) is essential for entry to medical school.

It can seem very complicated, but basically there are three main stages which have to be completed in order to qualify as a Doctor:

  • Stage 1 Medical School Degree Course
  • Stage 2 Foundation Programme
  • Stage 3 Specialty neurophysiologist and run-through training

Take a look at our General Information Article ‘Applying to Medical School’

Here are the three stages in more detail:

Stage 1: Undergraduate Medical School

This involves a period of study at medical school (attached to a university) including work experience placements in a hospital and community setting.

The different types of medical degree course include:

  • Standard five-year degree course
  • Courses which include a pre-medical year, for candidates with non-science A levels (or equivalent)
  • Accelerated courses for graduates (four years in length)

The Welsh Government funds the education and training for a range of health professional education courses, (details of the specific courses can be found at: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/undergraduate-education). To be eligible for a bursary you must commit to working in Wales following completion of your programme.

More information about the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme can be accessed on the Student awards Services website: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/course-starts-on-or-after-1-september-20

What qualifications do you need to get into Medical School?

The majority of medical schools require three A levels including chemistry. Others will accept AS level in chemistry, depending upon the other qualifications being offered. Some require biology at A level.

Candidates without science A levels

For candidates without science subjects to offer at A level (or equivalent), it is possible to undertake an additional pre-medical year at some universities. The pre-medical year is a preliminary course in chemistry, physics and biology and lasts normally 30 weeks.

Candidates without A levels

A small number of access courses are offered which can lead onto a medical degree. The acceptability of access courses varies between medical schools and so it is essential that you check this prior to starting on an access course.

Candidates without A levels but with considerable life experience may still need to hold academic qualifications and will need to produce evidence of their ability to cope with the demands of the course for which they are applying.

Candidates with a degree

Medical schools increasingly welcome applications from graduates. Graduate candidates normally need a first or upper second class honours degree. Some medical schools require the degree to be in a science-related subject, whilst others do not, so make sure you check with your intended medical school.

What will medical schools will be looking for in candidates?

Entry into a medical school is tough! You will be called for an interview and will face searching questions about your motivation, your work at school, hobbies and personal interests, as well as having to produce evidence of your academic achievements.

A key question will be your reasons for wanting to become a Doctor. You should also be able to demonstrate relevant paid or voluntary work experience e.g. work as a Hospital Auxiliary, in nursing or residential care.

Students can find the addresses of local hospitals and residential homes on-line, or in the telephone book. How about getting in contact with them and arranging some work experience?

Stage 2: Foundation programme

This is a two-year programme which all UK medical graduates must undertake before moving on to further training. You must have first completed stage 1 undergraduate medical school before starting on the two-year Foundation training.

You will be known as a Foundation Doctor while on the training programme.

Stage 3: Speciality Neurophysiologist and run-through training

This is when you get to train and specialise in your chosen speciality - neurophysiology.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in a caring role such as working in a care home or in a hospital would be really useful for this career.

Qualifications

To enter a degree course in healthcare science that allows you to specialise in neurophysiology, you'll usually need:

  • 3 A levels, including at least one science subject and maths
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 and above in your A level subjects
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs (A*-C or 9-4), including English and maths

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

However, course requirements vary, so please check college/university websites very carefully.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Courses

If you don't have the usual academic qualifications needed for a degree in medicine, you might be able to enter the course through:

  • An Access to Medicine course.
  • A 'pre-medical' or 'foundation' year, if you don't have science A levels.
Medical schools increasingly welcome applications from graduates. Graduate candidates normally need a first or upper second class honours degree. Some medical schools require the degree to be in a science-related subject, whilst others do not, so make sure you check with your intended medical school.

There are also shortened or fast-track medical degrees, usually lasting four years, for graduates. You would usually need a relevant first degree, for example, in a science subject, although some universities accept graduates in any subject.

Training

You can train in a specialty (once qualified as a doctor) on a part-time basis. This can be through the NHS 'Less Than Full-time Training Programme', through which students cover 50-80% of the normal full-time weekly programme.

Other options for part-time training are 'job-sharing' and 'permanent part-time'.

Funding

Students on university courses in medicine (recognised by the General Medical Council) may be eligible for financial help from the NHS as part of their course.

If you are accepted onto approved courses, you might be eligible to receive financial support from the NHS. The timing of when this is provided depends on the type of course you are doing.

1) Funding for undergraduate students on standard five-year courses

Gaining admission to the standard five-year courses means you are entitled to receive student loans from Student Finance England for maintenance and tuition fees in the first four years.

From year five onwards, tuition fees will be paid by the NHS Student Bursary Scheme and you will be eligible to apply for a means-tested NHS bursary to cover maintenance costs and a reduced maintenance loan from Student Finance England.

Students also have access to a non-means tested grant of £1,000 as part of their NHS Bursary award.

However, the arrangements for graduate medical students on a five year course are different. In the first four years of the course, you would not be eligible to receive a loan for tuition fees or a maintenance grant regardless of whether or not you have previously received funding. However, you may be able to apply for a full, income based, maintenance loan from Student Finance England.

From year five of the training, graduate medical students receive the same support as undergraduate medical students (see above).

2) Funding for graduates on accelerated courses

Currently, you will have to fund the first £3,465 of your tuition fees in the first year. In the subsequent years of your course, the NHS Bursary scheme will pay £3,465 towards your tuition fees. Throughout the course, eligible students will be able to receive a Student Loan Company loan to cover the difference between £3,465 and the tuition charges of their universities, to a maximum charge of £9,000.

Further Information

NHS Wales Careers

Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare

Email: abm.wedsteam@wales.nhs.uk

Website: www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36090

NHS Jobs

Website: www.jobs.nhs.uk

Step into the NHS

NHS careers

Tel: 0345 6060655

Website: www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

Skills for Health

Skills for the health sector

Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

Tel: 0117 9221155

Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN

Tel: 0131 6563200

Email: enquiries@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Website: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP)

Email: rccpadmin@rccp.co.uk

Website: www.rccp.co.uk

Physiological Society

Address: Hodgkin Huxley House, 30 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3AW

Tel: 020 7269 5710

Email: contactus@physoc.org

Website: www.physoc.org

Association of Neurophysiological Scientists (ANS)

Website: www.ansuk.org

British Society for Clinical Neurophysiology (BSCN)

Website: www.bscn.org.uk

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