Physiological scientists, also known as clinical physiologists, work in hospitals and long-term healthcare facilities. They examine and monitor human physiological organs and systems such as respiratory, nervous and cardiac systems, to diagnose and treat physiological disorders and long-term illnesses.
Physiological science mainly deals with critical life functions and organs such as the brain, heart, and the lungs, as well as the circulatory, nervous and digestive systems.
Activities include testing, monitoring, analysing and diagnosing physiological conditions of patients by using medical and scientific equipment, suggesting treatment methodology and drug therapy, tracking improvements and deteriorations and recommending alternative treatment methods.
Salary & benefits
Trainees earn starting salaries ranging from around £20,000 to £28,000.
Those with up to six years’ experience earn £25,000 to £35,000, while senior scientists can earn annual salaries ranging between £35,000 and £45,000.
Professionals based in metropolitan areas may receive an additional 10-15% to manage the higher cost of living. Benefits such as health insurance and pensions are also part of the yearly compensation package.
Physiological scientists form part of the larger team of medical professionals involved in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients.
Junior and trainee staff may need to work in shifts on a 24/7 basis, but, by and large, clinical physiologists work around 35 to 40 hours on a weekly basis.
A BSc in Clinical Physiology, accredited by the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP), is the basic requirement to work as a physiological scientist.
Strong A-levels in science and mathematics and an undergraduate degree in biology, human physiology or biomedical science increase the chance of gaining admission into a good hospital training placement.
Training & progression
The degree programme involves one year of foundation studies in the practice of clinical physiology, with students choosing a specialism for study in the remaining period. Specialties offered include cardiology, respiratory technology, critical care technology and gastroenterology.
This part of the degree includes theoretical and practical learning, with short-term rotations through functional units relevant to clinical physiology.
A majority of employers offer extensive ‘on-the-job’ training and development programmes, which include formal and practical learning and tutoring support for completing advanced degrees or certifications.
Career growth in the NHS and similar organisations is based on employee grades and the completion of mandatory training. As always, individual performance, work experience and levels of professional certification and expertise determine one’s career path and progression over the years.