Cardiologist: a physician who deals with disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels.

These doctors may diagnose and treat conditions of:

  • congenital heart defects
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart failure
  • valvular heart disease
  • electrophysiology.

This medical specialty should not be confused with cardiac surgeons who are surgeons who operate on the heart and great vessels. Please note cardiologist such as interventional and invasive will perform procedures but this is not surgery though.

Quick Facts

Competitiveness: Very high

Length of training: 6 years

Number of residency programs: 179

Number of residents in training: 1,967

Number in U.S. currently Board Certified in specialty: 18,690

First year median compensation: $267,000

Mean number of hours per week in patient care activities: 57.8

Residency Information

You will need to complete a 3 year residency in internal medicine, followed by another 3 years of training in cardiology.

For an additional 1 to 2 years you can further subspecialize in areas such as:

  • pediatric
  • nuclear
  • interventional
  • cardiac electrophysiology

Why Choose

Doctors entering this specialty were influenced by faculty role models and the intellectual challenges when dealing with the heart.

Doctors will also admit they prefer performing procedures, like the treatment outcomes, and there is some diversity in your patients.

Typical Cardiologist Schedule

In this specialty you will be working long hours and in some cases, longer than surgeons. You are caring for seriously ill patients and will be frequently called into the hospital at night. Heart attacks can happen at any time or place so you have to be prepared to make emergency trips to the hospital to evaluate patients and make admissions to the hospital.

During the day these doctors run their own office-based practices where they are evaluating new patients or following up on others.

If You're Interested

This specialty can become physically exhausting and when emergencies arise they must be handled immediately.

You need to be aware that this specialty is very procedure-oriented.

Overall, when making clinical decisions you will want to be a good internist first and secondly a subspecialist.

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