Cardiologists are physicians who diagnose and treat heart and vascular system conditions. Pediatric cardiologists treat young patients, some of whom are still in the womb. Pediatric cardiologists must be empathetic, have good communication skills and handle pressure well to carry out the lifesaving work that they do.
Pediatric cardiologists diagnose and manage congenital -- those present at birth -- or acquired cardiac and cardiovascular conditions in children. Their patients range in age from the unborn to those in early adulthood. They diagnose and treat heart defects, heart muscle disorders, rhythm disturbances and even high blood pressure, or hypertension. Advances in the field, such as improved imaging from MRIs and CT scans, have revolutionized the treatment of heart conditions in fetuses, infants and children. Pediatric cardiologists can also sub-specialize in areas such as intensive care; cardiac catheterization, where a small tube is placed in or near the heart to take pictures or relieve blockage; heart failure and transplantation; and rehabilitation through exercise.
Pediatric cardiologists are trained to perform and interpret tests and procedures similar to those for adults -- but adjusted for younger, smaller bodies. They must take extra safety precautions and understand how disease shows in younger, rather than older, bodies. Typically, primary care physicians refer patients to a pediatric cardiologist in response to symptoms such as chest pains or fainting spells. A pediatric cardiologist guides a young patient's cardiac care in conjunction with the patient's other doctors. Although a pediatric cardiologist does not perform surgery, he may work with a cardiac surgeon, sharing the information necessary to return the child to optimal health.
Pediatric cardiologists may work in large teaching hospitals, smaller facilities or in a private practice. They might also obtain further training to perform research or teach. As with others who work in life-or-death situations, pediatric cardiologists must be able to make sound decisions under heavy pressure. They must be aware or their limitations, work with and lead a team, and sacrifice their personal time for patients, when necessary.
Salary and Education
Pediatric cardiologists earned median annual salaries of $249,990 in 2012, according to the American Medical Group Association. To become a pediatrician, students must graduate from college and complete four years of medical school, then three years of training in pediatrics. Pediatricians take another three or more years of training to become pediatric cardiologists. To receive hospital privileges, a pediatric cardiologist must be certified. Doctors must also be licensed in the state where they work.
- American College of Cardiology -- Minnesota Chapter: FAQs
- Council of Pediatric Subspecialties: Pediatric Cardiology
- Stanford School of Medicine Department of Radiology: Radiology CME
- National Health Service Careers: Cardiovascular Medicine
- AMGA Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physicians and Surgeons -- How to Become a Physician or Surgeon
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