A neurophysiologist helps diagnose and monitor patients with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, motor neuron disease and dementia, as well as people who are recovering from meningitis or a stroke. They may work in intensive care units, operating theatres and hospital departments or in dedicated units.
A qualified neurophysiologist will work in hospitals and clinics, helping inpatients and outpatients of all ages from babies through to adults and elderly people. They also work in specialist units, monitoring patients' progression or the effect of their condition on their overall health.
Typical work activities for a neurophysiologist include:
- using electroencephalography (EEG) equipment
- measuring responses to specific stimuli
- assessing the function of the nerves using electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS).
Neurophysiologists are scientists who investigate and monitor the function of people's nervous systems, from head to toe. They diagnose and monitor neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, myasthenia gravis and carpal tunnel syndrome. They may investigate and monitor patients who have dementia, meningitis, encephalitis. Neurophysiologists work with specialist nurses and doctors, physiotherapists, and other healthcare staff, such as those found in audiology departments.
Neurophysiologists can join the Association of Neurophysiological Scientists (ANS) and the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) both of which recommend standards of training and qualifications and hold events, courses and conferences. The website NeuromonitoringUK.org promotes excellence in neuromonitoring and offers advice and support for neuromonitoring professionals.
A neurophysiologist is likely to be contracted to work around 38 hours a week in a clinic, unit or hospital department. Some neurophysiologists work shifts, in the community or work in research.
Neurophysiology is evolving and advancing as new technical equipment is developed, new treatments are tested and adopted and more research is undertaken.
You'll find vacancies advertised on jobs platforms run by the NHS and local healthcare trusts. Other jobs may be advertised in national and local newspapers.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for neurophysiologists
- Excellent communication
- Good at working with teams and individuals
- An interest in science and technology
- Ability to analyse results
- Good manner with patients of all ages
- Emotional resilience.
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of neurophysiologists
- The National Health Service (NHS) departments
- Private hospitals and clinics
- Colleges and universities
- Specialist research units and charities
Qualifications and training required
Students who want to become neurophysiologists can take an integrated NHS practitioner training programme (PTP) BSc degree at an accredited university. It combines academic study with workplace and on-the-job training. Training is also available to graduates with an existing science degree, for example in physiology, pure or applied physics, engineering, biology or human biology, who can study for a clinical science (neurosensory sciences) masters degree under the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).
Degrees in neurophysiology
Degree courses in neurophysiology involve the following...
Typical first year units studied include physiological sciences, and healthcare sciences plus a placement in professional practice. Second year studies may include clinical neurophysiology, medical instrumentation and imaging, neurological conditions and research methods, combined with a placement in professional practice. Typical third year studies may include applied clinical neurophysiology, plus a dissertation and a placement in professional practice.
Once qualified, neurophysiologists can apply to be a member of the Association of Neurophysiological Scientists (ANS) and join the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP).
Applying for a degree course in neurophysiology
To apply for a typical BSc course, you will need three A levels, two of which must be science subjects, plus GCSEs (or equivalent) in mathematics, English language and sciences. Scottish qualifications SQA Higher/Advanced Higher AABB including biology, chemistry and mathematics. Other acceptable qualifications include International Baccalaureate at Higher Level grades 5,5,5, including biology and chemistry, plus Standard Level mathematics grade 4; Access to Higher Education Diploma in science, medicine, dentistry or pharmacy; a BTEC Extended Diploma at Level 3 with 60 credits from relevant science units. Applicants are also interviewed to access most courses and asked to sit an aptitude, or literacy and numeracy test. Other routes on to courses include science foundation years and accreditation for prior learning, qualification and experience. Some universities offer four-year masters level courses.