A day as a respiratory physiologist

You work at your local NHS hospital, and arrive at 9am for your first appointment - a 30-year-old man with breathing difficulties. You use high-tech specialist equipment to test his breathing and lung function, then write a report of your findings to help with a diagnosis. Next, you see a man who snores and his wife reports he stops breathing at night. You perform a sleep study and find his airway repeatedly closes during sleep. You then arrange for a overnight ventilation trial. Every day is different, and you find work varied and exciting. You finish at 5pm, knowing you've used your skills to improve - and sometimes save - people's lives.

Does this sound like you?

You enjoy science, and are good at problem solving and logical thinking. You have good communication skills and enjoy dealing with people. You pay close attention to detail, are very responsible and would like a job helping others.

What's next after GCSE?

You'll need a minimum of five 9-4 (A*-C) grade GCSEs (or the equivalent), preferably including science. Then you'll be all set to apply for at least two (ideally three) A levels (or the equivalent) at college or 6th form.

What's next after A level and beyond?

There are three routes into respiratory physiology and you'll need to do further study at university whichever one you take.

One route is to apply for a BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science in physiological sciences, where you can specialise in respiratory and sleep physiology. Getting into a degree at university requires at least two A levels (including at least one science subject) or equivalent level 3 qualifications. However, entry requirements vary and so you must check the entry requirements of the universities you'd like to study at.

A second route is taking a healthcare science practitioner degree apprenticeship where you could specialise in respiratory physiology. These may be available in some parts of the country and you'll usually need the same level of GCSEs and A levels or equivalent qualifications. Always check the exact requirements with the employer as like universities, they can vary.

The third route is to take a relevant degree in science and then apply for the NHS Scientist Training Programme specialising in respiratory and sleep physiology, which will train you to work as a clinical scientist.