Cardiologists are physicians who treat cardiovascular diseases and related conditions, including hypertension. The field has several subspecialties, including pediatric cardiology, interventional cardiology, non-interventional cardiology, and non-invasive cardiology. It is a demanding field, and if you have the qualifications and personal characteristics, you might be able to attain a position.
A Typical Day
A typical day in a cardiologist’s life can be hectic. Cardiologists typically spend their time evaluating their patients' concerns and making recommendations for medical treatment or lifestyle change. This can sometimes involve answering emails to address patient concerns. They might conduct tests such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram or exercise stress test for further assessments. They also monitor their patient's progress through regular check-ups, additional treatment or testing. In some cases, cardiologists provide clearance for surgery to patients with cardiovascular diseases.
After graduation from medical school, you'll need to get a license so you can practice medicine in your state. You also need to obtain certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine. You'll then undergo a three-year residency in internal medicine, a prerequisite program for all cardiologists. Next, you'll complete a fellowship program in your chosen specialty. Cardiology fellowships are typically two to three years, but the fellowship period depends on the program. For example, Stanford University offers a two-year fellowship in Interventional Cardiology and a one-year fellowship in heart failure and transplantation.
Non-invasive cardiologists use external tools to listen to the strength and timing of your heart's electrical activity. Non-interventional cardiologists also conduct external tests, and they are trained to perform minor surgeries such as cardiac catheterizations. They use cardiac catheterizations to evaluate chest pains, see how well the heart valves work and get an inside view of the heart. Interventional cardiologists perform surgeries such as balloon angioplasty and mesh stent placement, and electrophysiology cardiologists perform echocardiogram tests along with procedures such as installing pacemakers and cardiac ablations, which corrects heart rhythm problems.
A cardiologist's job entails a lot of emotional and psychological challenges. For example, your patient might have a diet and smoking habit that aggravates his heart condition. You'll need to encourage a lifestyle that promotes good health, but years of poor eating habits and tobacco addiction are difficult habits to break. You also need to give your patients information that is practical, realistic and manageable so that they understand and can put your advice into action.
- Cardio Smart: What is a Cardiologist
- Mayo Clinic: Cardiovascular Disease in Minnesota
- You And Your Cardiologist; Curtis M. Rimmerman
- National Institutes of Health: What is an Electrocardiogram?
- National Institutes of Health: Who Needs Cardiac Catheterization
- Mayo Clinic: Cardiac Ablation
- Stanford University: Advanced Fellowships