A neurophysiologist is a medical professional who specialises in the investigation of neurological diseases, in order to discover nerve activity and neuromuscular damage. This is a specialist branch of medicine that is chiefly concerned with the diagnosis of conditions affecting the nervous system, and would involve an array of investigative techniques. Conditions of particular interest to such specialists include neuromuscular diseases, epilepsy and nerve entrapments.

A neurophysiologist would need to measure electrical activity of nerve cells in the brain to ascertain what conditions are affecting the patient. It can be a difficult task to gain stable results from such testing, which is why individuals wishing to enter this profession need to have good levels of patience. If enough experience is acquired there may be the opportunity to become a consultant, which would require you to travel around the country offering your expert opinion on cases, and possibly abroad.

Work activities

Typical work activities a neurophysiologist would need to carry out include the following:

  • Diagnose conditions such as neuromuscular disease, epilepsy and nerve entrapment.
  • Work with a variety of medical sub-specialists.
  • Be welcoming of other medical professionals’ opinions.
  • Work in general hospitals or private clinics, mainly in a laboratory setting.
  • Be patient when testing nerve cells as it can be difficult to attain stable results.
  • Possibly monitor operative surgeries involving the spinal cord.
  • Collate and analyse patient histories in order to learn of any past illnesses or discrepancies.
  • Perform tests such as physical examinations as well as technical procedures like measuring the electrical activity of nerve cells.
  • Help put patients at ease during testing and treatment.
  • Ensure that testing is performed in a systematic manner to make sure results are not made void.
  • Work during the day as there is little need to be on call.

Essential skills

  • Strong scientific knowledge and skills, with a particular interest in neuroscience.
  • Practical skills and good hand-eye coordination.
  • Good with computers and laboratory testing equipment.
  • Able to follow testing regulations.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Able to work as part of a team and as an individual.
  • Patience when carrying out scientific tests.
  • Organised and professional manner.
  • Confident of your skills but also knowledgeable of your limitations.
  • Desire to continue studying while you work in order to keep up-to-date with any advances in the diagnoses and treatment of patients.