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How Do I Go into Integrative Physiology?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Integrative physiology is a field that draws from the principles of anatomy, physics, chemistry, biomechanics and physiology in studying the body's reaction to dynamic changes. This discipline differs from standard physiology in that it is most concerned with the body's reaction to change, and it utilizes the sciences outside the physiological realm. To go into integrative physiology, you must obtain the necessary education and training, depending on the capacity in which you want to be involved.

Integrative physiologists work in a number of settings. These settings typically include but are not limited to research, instruction and testing. Researchers are concerned primarily with the scientific study of integrative physiology, in turn discovering new information and developing techniques that aid in the advancement of the field. Instructors might teach a variety of courses pertaining to the field of integrative physiology, ranging from introductory class to ongoing education for already established professionals. People who work in testing will likely be employed in a clinical or laboratory setting and carry out the actual tests that give rise to the physiological data that can be analyzed.

These are three of the many facets of involvement possible within integrative physiology, all of which work together to help develop a better understanding of the dynamic bodily systems. All of these jobs warrant a great deal of specialized knowledge. If you have an interest in science and the human body, there are means to obtain the experience and education necessary to become an integrative physiologists.

The first step is to decide whether this field is a good fit for you. A good way to do this would be to evaluate your scientific interest or perhaps shadow some physiologists that work in a setting that you find interesting. If, after all of this, you still seek to go into integrative physiology, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree must be acquired.

There are a number of B.S. degrees that can lead to a career in the sciences. Among these are exercise science, physiology, biology or pre-medicine. All degrees in the sciences should introduce a student to the concepts that are necessary to further their career. The more reputable programs are valued more significantly by graduate schools, so high marks in high school are also important in gaining admittance into a top-tier science program.

Science programs attract some of the brightest minds in the world. The competitive nature of academia makes grades and experience the priorities for a future integrative physiologist. Volunteering in a research lab might be beneficial, as would extra coursework pertaining to your specific interests.

Depending on which area of integrative physiology you aspire to go into, a graduate degree might be required. If this is the case, more schoolwork, including master's or doctorate programs, are necessary after the completion of a bachelor's degree. The best advice is to find the specific niche you want to fill, then meet the requirements with an emphasis on related experience and grades.

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