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Physiologist Career Description

Physiology is the science concerned with the functioning of organisms. Physiology departments at tertiary institutions, generally focus on the functioning of the human body while the physiology of organisms such as plants, animals and microorganisms are studied in the departments of botany, zoology and microbiology respectively. Physiologists major in Physiology and usually continue their studies to obtain a Masters and Doctoral degree in Physiology. Human Physiology does, however, also form the basis for disciplines such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, communication pathology, radio optometry, as well as that of technological studies such as medical technology and clinical technology.

What am I going to do in this occupation?

Physiologists are scientists who study the physiological functions of the human body.

Physiologists are interested in the internal "communication" of organs, energy procurement and utilization, blood circulation, excretion, defense systems against infection, repair mechanisms and reproduction. All these mechanisms function to keep the internal environment of the body stable to ensure the survival of the organism. Everything that influence the normal functioning of the body of a human, animal or plant is also studied by the physiologist. These include nutrition, digestion, absorption, metabolism and diseases (pathology).

Physiologists can work in well-equipped laboratories. They can also lecture at universities. They can teach at secondary level, act as representatives for medical and pharmaceutical firms or be appointed as technical assistants in research or routine laboratories.


What kind of personality do I need? The prospective physiologist must be methodical and accurate and like laboratory work. An aptitude for Mathematics and the biological sciences is important, and the ability to think logically and concentrate well is equally necessary.

Good health is important, because physiologists spend a great deal of the day on their feet. Good interpersonal relations are necessary, especially when the physiologist work on a research project as a member of a team.

Where can I work?

Physiologists can be employed by biological, medical and pharmacological research laboratories. There are also good prospects for physiologists at the Department of Agriculture and veterinary research institutes concemed with animal nutrition, meat and wool production, plant poisoning problems and the physiology of ruminants. Physiologists also work as laboratory technicians at medical schools, universities and pathological laboratories.

Can I work for myself in this occupation?

After specializing as an industrial physiologist there are opportunities to be self-employed.

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