Clinical Physiology

Watch our video of Shaun, a Respiratory Physiologist in a busy hospital. 

My name is Shaun and I'm a Respiratory Physiologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

"Ok, big breath in and blow fast. Keep going, keep going, keep going...".

We do a variety of different tests, depending on what the doctors have asked for - lung capacity measurements, sometimes it's exercise testing, sometimes it's gas transfer, sometimes it's total lung capacity.

So, we use lots of different equipment, from spirometers, which are simple volume measuring devices, to more complex pieces of equipment that involve gas analysis and use of gas cylinders, to exercise equipment - exercise bikes [and] body plethysmographs.

You have to have an interest in physiology and science, I would say, and an interest in working with people, because that's quite important. It's not something we're just doing to the patients, the patients are heavily involved in the results we get.

I think the NHS is a great place for me to work, because there's lots of different things that are going on and you have access to a lot of different types of tests. You can contribute to a doctor's research or you can even  come up with your own research projects. So, there's always opportunities to develop professionally and that's what I like most about the job.

Clinical physiologists

  • use specialist equipment and advanced technologies
  • use a range of different procedures to evaluate the functions of different body systems
  • diagnose abnormalities
  • direct intervention and long-term management and care

Roles in Clinical Physiology include Audiology, Cardiac Physiology, Sleep Physiology, Respiratory Physiology, Clinical Perfusion and Neurophysiology.

The work involves working with patients in hospital clinics and departments or as part of a surgical team. Some work in the community, visiting patients in their homes or in schools.


Useful skills and abilities include

  • an interest in medicine and patient care
  • high levels of accuracy and attention to detail
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • the confidence to take responsibility for decisions
  • an enquiring mind and good problem solving skills
  • good communication skills
  • teamwork and leadership skills


A BSc in Clinical Physiology is available from Glasgow Caledonian University with Glasgow Kelvin College of Further Education. This is the only degree in Clinical Physiology available in Scotland. 

You will need 3 SQA Highers at BBC or 4 SQA Highers at BCCC. 

Some audiology training is offered at Queen Margaret University including a 2 year fast-track postgraduate pre-registration masters route and a work-based assistant practitioner programme for HCPC Hearing Aid Dispenser.

Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7

The Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical healthcare setting. For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:


There are many opportunities to learn and develop as a Clinical Physiologist. You could specialise in a sepcific area, carry out research or, with experience, move into full-time research or teaching.

Find out about all these learning and development opportunities at