Careers in Healthcare S1 E2 Healthcare science : Cardiac physiologist

Lynsey’s a cardiac physiologist. She came to chat with us about how much she loves her job helping save the lives of babies with heart conditions. Listen to this episode to find out about her journey to becoming a paediatric cardiac physiologist and how you can become one too!

Cardiac physiologists are healthcare scientists that do lots of different diagnostic tests on the heart. Lynsey explained that the role can include:

  • checking the rhythm of the heart by taking an Electrocardiogram (ECG) and analysing results
  • fitting and monitoring pace makers
  • assisting surgeons in the catheterisation laboratory (cath lab)
  • diagnostics with ultrasound to examine heart function

Lynsey's motivation

Lynsey was thinking of becoming a nurse when she found out about a position as a trainee cardiac physiologist. Before submitting her application, she had a tour of the cardiac department. There she saw people having heart scans, patients on treadmills having heart stress tests and ECGs being performed. It was then that she realised this was the perfect role for her.

Once she was in the role, she also discovered lots about how cardiac physiologists can save the lives of babies born with heart conditions, which made her keen to pursue that specialty. Lynsey now works specifically with babies and young children. She talks about her work examining hearts that may not have formed properly inside the womb. When those babies are delivered, Lynsey performs diagnostic tests to find out what’s happening and why. Babies then go on to have cardiac surgery and will be monitored by Lynsey until they reach adulthood.

Top skills for being a cardiac physiologist

Lynsey emphasises that people trust her to do the best job she can for them and their child. In addition to specific training and technical knowledge, she says that being calm, adaptable, and communicating well are key. We’re told calling a cardiac physiologist inquisitive is also a great compliment!

How to become a cardiac physiologist

The route Lynsey took to become a cardiac physiologist is very similar to the education pathway you can still take today. She applied for the trainee cardiac physiology job, which requires Highers in English, Maths, and 2 science subjects. When she got into the role, she worked 4 days a week gaining work experience in the hospital and 1 day a week in college. Now, trainee cardiac physiologists work in the hospital while studying Physiology at university.

If you’re interested in Lynsey’s role, ask to visit your local cardiac department or do some work experience there. Due to the pandemic, that isn’t possible right now, but Lynsey also highlighted online resources that might help you learn about her job. Start with visiting our page about becoming a cardiac physiologist. You can also learn online about different heart conditions and see if you can find out what physiologists do to assist in the treatment of those conditions.

In addition to her own career pathway, Lynsey highlights the role of clinical healthcare support workers in cardiology. In this role, you’ll gain basic training and qualifications so that you can apply to the trainee position when it becomes available.

If you’d like to attend college before becoming a cardiac physiologist trainee, learn about applied sciences or human biology. If you’ve gone to university to do sports medicine or a science-based degree, you could be eligible to do an advanced training programme advertised as a job in the hospital.

We hope you enjoyed finding out about Lynsey’s inspiring work as a cardiac physiologist. Make sure to tune in to our other episodes to find out more about different healthcare science roles in NHSScotland. If you’d like to read about NHSScotland careers, including those in healthcare science, explore our careers.