10 April 2012

The licensing of exercise physiologists. Part 3

Posted by Jody under: Fitness .

A restricted role

These definitions seemingly place restrictions upon exercise physiologists and the profession. The clinical exercise physiologist seems to be bound to a clinical setting, under the supervision of a physician. This stipulation places a degree of confinement not found among other allied health professionals. For instance, a physical therapist, nurse, dietitian, respiratory therapist or other has the freedom to “practice” under a physician’s referral and with various degrees of autonomy, regardless of the setting. The exercise physiologist is an exception to the rule. The exercise physiologist forfeits their expertise and is not permitted to use the title of exercise physiologist outside a clinical setting.

Consider that many private health clubs receive referrals from local physicians requesting an exercise prescription/program for patients with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and orthopedic and other conditions. The designated “fitness instructor” or “personal trainer” may not have any formal education, but is permitted to legally practice “clinical exercise physiology.” The exercise physiologist, on the other hand, is significantly undermined by this. Exercise physiologists have earned a college degree(s) and other credential(s), yet they are not permitted to offer their expertise in multiple settings.

The definition of an exercise physiologist also seems to place some restrictions on the profession. Once again, it suggests that the individual aspiring to become an exercise physiologist must obtain a master’s degree and then work only in a specified setting. On the other hand, other health professionals can work in a variety of settings upon receiving a bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree and passing the required examination for licensure. This essentially reflects that existing undergraduate programs in exercise science do not adequately prepare students for the demands of their chosen profession. If this statement were true, a national accreditation of academic programs would ensure uniformity and respectability.

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