A cardiologist is responsible for dealing with your cardiovascular health. The primary job of a cardiologist is to assess, diagnose and treat a patient’s heart health and other related conditions. Cardiologists, however, do not work alone. They work alongside the patient’s physician and devise medical strategies to ensure that your heart is in good health.
Generally, cardiologists work in hospitals in coronary care units or general cardiology wards, alongside a multi-disciplinary team but many also opt for an alternative route. This includes:
- Starting a private practice
- Being employed in private institutions
- One can also opt to work in universities
- Serving for armed forces or other government departments
- Participating in clinical research
Sub-specialties in the job of a cardiologist
An Electrophysiology cardiologist’s job is to study echocardiograms. These help in viewing an accurate image of your heart. An Electrophysiology cardiologist will then check to see if there are any irregular heart rhythms (which may cause cardiac arrest in the long run.) If so, they move on towards implanting pacemakers and defibrillators. If the irregularities aren’t much, then an electrophysiology cardiologist may simply try to deal with it orally through drug therapies.
These tend to focus on advanced procedures like repairing the heart valves, stent replacements to remove blockages in the heart, balloon angioplasty, and even atherectomy (the removal of plaque)
Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiologists
These cardiovascular specialists deal with complex heart failure conditions and diseases. Unlike the above two, this job involves working closely with other surgeons and being responsible for heart transplant procedures.
What skills should one have for the job of a cardiologist?
Not everyone has what it takes to become a cardiologist. Some inherent skills and traits required for the job of a cardiologist include (but are not limited to):
- Possessing a strong stomach for blood
- In order to become a cardiologist, one must have an exceptional hand-eye coordination
- Patience and compassion to be able to listen to patients’ complaints and respond to their queries are crucial to working as a cardiologist.
- Ability to pay attention to detail
- Working as a cardiologist also means having the grit to work under pressure, make decisions on the spot, and manage uncertainty
- Being emotionally resilient in challenging medical situations
- The job of a cardiologist also demands having strong organizational skills.
- Being comfortable working at odd hours (be it answering a patient’s call or performing an unscheduled emergency surgery)
- This job also entails collaborating with other medical professionals with ease
So what duties and responsibilities can I expect in becoming a cardiologist?
A typical workday in the life of a cardiologist includes the following:
- Consulting with potential patients to get a grasp on their symptoms. Examining the patients. Getting their complete medical history (this may not be limited to their cardiovascular health but other diseases as well)
- Prescribing tests and/or surgery (if needed)
- Diagnosing and treating any cardiovascular disorders and diseases
- Ordering or conducting patients’ diagnostic testing and/or early detection screening if needed
- Using imaging like CT and MRI scanners to diagnose the cardiovascular conditions in the patient.
- Carefully examine the test results to see how well the heart is working.
- Performing or assisting in surgeries (either alone or with a team of other surgeons in case of complex surgeries)
- Maintaining up to date patient records and charts (This includes patient tests, test results, prescribed treatments, and comments)
- Communicating with physicians and other specialists (if and when needed)
- Sharing treatment and preventive plans with the patients. Advising the patients and answering all their queries regarding long-term care.
Educational Requirements for the job of cardiologist
To become a successful cardiologist, one must first fulfill the following educational requirements:
1: Get a medical; undergraduate degree.
2: Completing four years of medical school
3: Take the United States Licensing Exam for medical students
4: Undergo a three-year internal medicine residency (this comprises clinical rotations among various internal-medicine specialties such as cardiology, oncology, gastroenterology, etc.)
5: Getting a state license (this varies from state to state)
6: Obtain a Board Certification in Internal Medicine from the America Board of Internal Medicine
7: Next, complete a three-year-long Cardiology Fellowship. This is followed by taking the Cardiovascular Disease Certification Examination, administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
8: Decide which sub-specialty you want to do your fellowship in and pursue it.
9: Lastly, cardiologists must retake their certification exam every ten years to retain their credentials.
What about salary?
Monetary compensation is an important incentive in almost any job. As far as the job of a cardiologist is concerned, one can expect a salary range as follows:
Minimum annual salary: $239,000
Maximum annual salary: $623,000
Career outlook and prospects
Becoming a cardiologist can be indeed quite demanding. The extensive educational path followed by demanding work hours. However, if you have a passion for the body’s most vital organ; then the job of a cardiologist is the right choice for you.