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Article: Clinical Physiology

Summary

This article covers the following jobs:

  • Audiologist
  • Cardiac Physiologist
  • Neurophysiologist
  • Respiratory Physiologist.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. You should find out more about the careers that interest you.

Introduction

Physiology is the science that looks at how the body works, including its organs and systems.

Clinical physiologists use sophisticated equipment in hospitals to test, measure and investigate the workings of the patient's body. This includes hearing, breathing, the heart, and the activity of the brain and nervous system. These investigations help doctors to diagnose and monitor illness, and to decide on treatment.

Clinical physiologists work with patients, so they need to be friendly and reassuring. They need an interest in science and health, and the ability to use complex technology. It's essential to be careful, accurate and able to pay attention to detail at all times.

There are different types of clinical physiologist, measuring and testing different things. For example

  • cardiac physiologist (the heart)
  • neurophysiologist (electrical activity in the brain and nervous system)
  • audiologist (hearing)
  • respiratory physiologist (breathing).

Some of the careers in this area

Respiratory Physiologist

Respiratory physiologists use equipment to test and measure patients' breathing. This helps doctors to diagnose lung diseases and problems with breathing, and to monitor treatment.

They use a range of equipment, which is often linked up to computers. The physiologist sets up the equipment needed to take a particular set of measurements. Then, they take a series of readings from the equipment and record the results, making sure they are accurate.

To become a respiratory physiologist, you can complete a degree in healthcare science that allows you to train in respiratory and sleep physiology. You could also start training if you have a science degree.

Cardiac Physiologist

Cardiac physiologists test and monitor people who are suspected of having heart problems, or who have been diagnosed with these.

Their findings help doctors to make a diagnosis and decide how to treat the patient.

Cardiac physiologists use equipment, for example, to record heart rhythm, measure electrical activity in the heart, assess blood circulation and take blood pressure.

They also work closely with patients who have pacemakers, making sure they are comfortable and work properly.

To become a cardiac physiologist, you can complete a degree in healthcare science that allows you to train in cardiac physiology. You could also start training if you have a science degree.

Neurophysiologist

Neurophysiologists carry out tests on people to measure the electrical activity of their brain and nervous system. Accuracy and attention to detail are very important in this work.

For example, neurophysiologists can use an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine to help doctors diagnose problems such as epilepsy, stroke and inflammation of the brain.

They also test patients' reactions to stimuli such as flashing lights, to help diagnose neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

Neurophysiologists can also monitor a patient's brain while they are asleep or having an operation.

To become a neurophysiologist, you can complete a degree in healthcare science with a neurophysiology pathway. You could also start training if you have a science degree.

Audiologist

Audiologists test people's hearing, finding and measuring hearing loss. They also work with patients who have balance problems and conditions such as tinnitus.

They use specialist equipment such as audiometers to assess and measure hearing.

Audiologists work closely with patients, giving them support and advice. They help patients to overcome and cope with difficulties.

If the patient needs a device such as a hearing aid, the audiologist will select one that best meets their needs. They also give the patient advice on how to use the aid, and support to help them come to terms with wearing it.

To become an audiologist, you can complete a degree in healthcare science (audiology). You could also start training if you have a science degree.

Further Information

Society for Cardiological Science and Technology (SCST)

Address: Executive Business Support (EBS), City Wharf, Davidson Road, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS14 9DZ

Tel: 0845 8386037

Email: admin@scst.org.uk

Website: www.scst.org.uk

Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology (ARTP)

Address: Executive Business Support Ltd, City Wharf, Davidson Road, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS14 9DZ

Tel: 0845 2263062

Email: admin@artp.org.uk

Website: www.artp.org.uk

British Academy of Audiology (BAA)

Address: Blackburn House, Redhouse Road, Seafield, Bathgate, West Lothian, EH47 7AQ

Tel: 01625 290046

Email: admin@baaudiology.org

Website: www.baaudiology.org

Association of Neurophysiological Scientists (ANS)

Website: www.ansuk.org

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