The heart is one of the most – if not the most – vital and complex organs in human beings. That’s why when it’s not functioning properly, you call on a cardiologist to help you figure out and understand what’s going on.
Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in heart conditions, diseases, and treatments. In this field, you study the way the heart and blood vessels work, in order to provide an accurate diagnosis of irregularities and create the best possible treatment plans for patients. You also advise patients on heart care, like cardiac fitness and cholesterol management, to help prevent illnesses.
The Life of a Cardiologist
The path to becoming a cardiologist starts with completing a four-year pre-medical undergraduate degree While there’s no required major, most take biology, chemistry, or cardiovascular technology programs.
You must then complete four years of medical school and another three years of residency program in internal medicine.
Like all physicians, cardiologists must be licensed in the state they’re practicing in. Plus, you must pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam and be certified through the American Board of Internal Medicine to practice in this specialized field.
In addition, cardiologists attend three to four years of a fellowship program to continue working with physicians and gain advanced training in the specialization. Once completed, you may earn a subspecialty certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties or American Osteopathic Association.
A Day in the Life of a Cardiologist
Every day is different and sometimes unpredictable for cardiologists. Generally, you are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and preventing medical conditions related to patients’ heart and blood vessels. You are the expert consultant to primary care doctors when it comes to cardiovascular matters.
Cardiologists’ day-to-day duties include:
- Analyzing laboratory results to determine the next best steps.
- Communicating results and treatment progress to patients and primary doctors.
- Counseling patients on heart care programs and prevention techniques.
- Doing routine check-ups on in-patients.
- Examining patients’ heart-related conditions.
- Ordering diagnostic tests.
- Performing surgical procedures (invasive cardiologist).
- Prescribing medications or treatment programs.
- Working with patients referred by general physicians or emergency room doctors.
As a cardiologist, you’ll work about 40 to 60 hours per week depending on the need. You must be readily available and on-call in case of an emergency.
Most cardiologists work in medical and surgical hospitals. Some work in business offices, educational facilities, home health care companies, or nursing homes. Others also opt to move forward with their own private practice.
Average Income and Industry Outlook
Cardiologists earn between $335,000 and $504,000 annually. Gaining experience and added credentials help increase your salary over time.
Likewise, if you’re a member of the American Heart Association or the American College of Cardiology, you grow your professional network, increase your chances of getting hired, and scale your income.
It’s also projected that job outlook for cardiologists is expected to grow 13% between 2016 and 2026. This is driven by the growth of the aging population and technological advancements in the United States.
If you’re looking for a fulfilling career and you’re ready for the long and challenging process that comes with it, then becoming a cardiologist is a good option. Your years of hard work will pay off once you recognize that you’re saving lives every day of your career.
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