How Do I Become a Clinical Physiologist?

D. Nelson
D. Nelson
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

An individual who desires to become a clinical physiologist should begin by taking steps to earn a degree in a medical field. Although requirements vary from country to country, in the US a graduate medical degree is necessary; other regions permit individuals holding post-secondary certificates to practice. You should check with local educational institutions to determine the appropriate academic path for your needs.

Some colleges and universities in the United States offer a master's degree specifically in physiology, while others run programs in related concentrations. Once you have received the necessary academic preparation, you should enroll in a certification program, where you can learn firsthand how to perform evaluations and administer treatments. In most cases, these certifications programs last for about two years and require students to complete dissertations.

Clinical physiologists are medical professionals who specialize in analyzing patients' body systems to learn of problems. They administer treatments that help restore patients to good health. Most physiologists have specific areas of expertise. For example, a neurophysiologist focuses on the nervous system to treat neurological disorders, such as strokes and epilepsy. Cardiac physiologists, on the other hand, concentrate on the human heart.

A medical degree is essential for any individual who would like to become a clinical physiologist. In most areas, aspiring medical students must take proficiency exams before applying. In the United States, for example, all medical school applicants should take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Applicants also should have a strong background in fields such as biology, chemistry, and math.

While you are studying for your medical degree, inform an academic adviser that you would like to become a clinical physiologist. He or she can help you choose classes and internships that prepare you for this career. In some cases, individuals can enroll in medical programs that directly prepare them for the physiology careers of their choice. An individual who is interested in pursuing a career as a cardiac physiologist, for example, receives training with a focus that is different from that of the training an aspiring neurophysiologist.

Some schools provide alternative routes to certification for students who are interested in pursuing clinical physiologist careers early in their academic training. For example, an undergraduate student who receives high marks in the sciences may want to enter an accelerated degree program. In this kind of program, a student can begin receiving graduate training while he or she still is enrolled as an undergraduate. This model helps gifted students to save money and time since they do not have to pursue two different degrees.

Some clinical physiologists specialize in the health fitness field. These individuals are exercise physiologists. To become a clinical physiologist in this field, you should enter a graduate program in a field such as kinesiology or exercise science.

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