Duties and responsibilities
A cardiologist is a specialist physician who specializes in diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases that mainly affect the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists can work with patients of any age, from newborn babies to elderly adults. Their typical responsibilities and duties include:
- Performing exams on patients to assess and diagnose their condition
- Discussing the results with patients
- Explaining procedures to patients
- Giving advise to patients on how to look after their heart (e.g., exercise more, eat better foods)
- Writing prescriptions that will treat cardiovascular diseases
- Performing surgical procedures on patients with heart-related conditions
- Conducting necessary treatments on patients
- Measuring and tracking the improvement of the patients health
- Referring the patients to other specialists if necessary
- Analyzing record, reports and test and examination results to diagnose medical conditions
- Collecting, recording and maintaining patient information, such as medical history and examination results
Like all physicians, cardiologists must complete a bachelor’s degree program before attending medical school. Medical schools are extremely selective, and prospective students must have excellent collegiate grades, get good scores on the Medical College Admission Test, and possess letters of recommendation from professors or other professionals. Once medical school is completed, cardiologists must complete a residency period that specializes in cardiology. After residency, all physicians must pass the national licensing exam. Cardiologists must pass the American Board of Specialties examination to acquire board certification in cardiology.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as completing all the relevant medical training, cardiologists will need skills such as:
- Written and verbal communication skills, as cardiologists will need to communicate with patients, coworkers and with specialists throughout the whole treatment process. They will also need to maintain files that document patient treatments and referrals
- Compassion, as cardiologists will be approached by patients in pain or distress and must be understanding and compassionate
- Problem solving skills, as cardiologists will need to find the solutions to a wide range of cardiac problems
- Dexterity, as cardiologists will have to carefully operate on the heart and therefore must have excellent hand-eye coordination
- Attention to detail, as cardiologists need to spot issues with patients cardiac system, which is complicated
- Organizational skills, as cardiologists will have to work with multiple patients and instruct multiple team members. Therefore, they will need to coordinate numerous treatment plans and instructions
Most cardiologists will work full time, but part time positions may be available. Cardiologists may be on call and they may have to work long and irregular hours.
According to salary.com, the average annual salary for cardiologists in the United States was $394,700 as of 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $251,799 per year and the highest 10% earned over $533,458 per year.
For as long as humans have hearts, there will always be a demand for cardiologists. Cardiologists may progress further to gather knowledge of cardiology subdivision (e.g., invasive or non-invasive surgery).