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How To Become A Cardiologist?

by Antra Kamble
How To Become A Cardiologist

Aspiring cardiologists need to know how to become a cardiologist before stepping into this field. Cardiology is a type of specialization that focuses on medical conditions of the heart and cardiovascular system. Heart conditions and their disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women. Cardiologists can make a significant health impact on the lives of people. If you have a passion for helping others, you may find this career rewarding. In this article, I will talk everything about how to become a cardiologist in detail. Continue reading to know more about this.

How To Become A Cardiologist?

The steps for how to become a cardiologist are given below.

  1. Get a bachelor’s degree
  2. Appear for MCAT
  3. Get into a medical school
  4. Obtain a medical license
  5. Complete a residency program
  6. Certification
  7. Complete a cardiology fellowship
  8. Additional Education

Becoming a well-known cardiologist is a very long and challenging process. Continue reading for more information on how to become a cardiologist.

Step By Step Guide To Become A Cardiologist

With the help of this guide, I will help you to understand how to become a cardiologist in detail. Make sure you read every section very carefully

  1. Get A Bachelor’s Degree

Potential cardiologists need to undertake a bachelor’s degree in a science or health-related field. Candidates usually will need four years to complete a bachelor’s degree. This will help you to start your career in this field. Here, you need to complete premedical courses like chemistry, physics, and biology. Make sure you study hard to score higher in your GPA. A higher GPA score will help you to get into medical school.

  1. Appear For MCAT

Every desiring candidate needs to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It is a standardized, multiple-choice exam that tests your vertical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of science concepts. Most of the medical schools will ask you to present your MCAT scores as part of your application. So, the better you perform the more school options you will have available for you.

  1. Get Into A Medical School

You need to start building your foundation once you are graduated from university.  At this time, you need to invest four more years of education at medical school. Here, you will take some advanced classes in pathology and pharmacology. After completing all courses, exams, lectures, you will be moved to a hospital where you can apply the skills. Eventually, this will help you earn a Medical Doctor (M.D.) Degree and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) Degree.

  1. Obtain A Medical License

After completing medical school, it is time to earn a medical license. You need to obtain a medical license by taking exams in order to practice medicine. This will reveal your knowledge and skills. It will also help to determine whether you are ready for your future career or not. Your scores in this exam play a major role in the next step of this journey. There are three types of licensing exams involved in this profession.

  • United States Medical Licensing Exams (USME) Step 1.
  • United States Medical Licensing Exams (USME) Step 2.
  • United States Medical Licensing Exams (USME) Step 3.

Each of these above exams is of different levels.

  1. Complete A Residency Program

Individuals must start applying for residency programs. Your next three years will be involved in training with a residency in internal medicine. Here, you need to complete several clinical rotations in different internal medicine specialties. This includes oncology, respiratory medicine, gastroenterology, and many more. You can further build up your portfolio and get letters of recommendation in this field. This will set you up for a cardiology fellowship by the time.

  1. Certification

The future cardiologist must earn board certification for practicing through the American Board of Internal Medicine. You can also take board certification in Cardiovascular Disease. Below I have mentioned down some voluntary certifications and memberships offered in this field.

  • Fellow American College of Cardiology (FACC)
  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • Heart Failure Society of American (HFSA)
  • American Society of Echocardiography (ASE)
  • Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals (ACVP)
  • American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP)
  1. Complete A Cardiology Fellowship

Last but not the least, individuals need to complete a cardiology fellowship. Fellowship in cardiology generally lasts for another three years. Here, you will get to know how to manage cardiac conditions, learn to perform procedures, and conduct clinical research. This will further help you to earn a certification. Below I have listed down subspeciality fellowships for cardiologists.

  • Heart Failure Fellowship (1 year): Here, you will manage complex heart failure such as heart transplants, artificial heart devices, etc.
  • Electrophysiology Fellowship (1-2 years): This fellowship includes the management of irregular arteries.
  • Interventional Cardiology Fellowship (1-2 years): This fellowship includes learning how to open up blocked arteries.
  1. Additional Education for Cardiologists

You can continue your medical education if you wish to stay on the top in this field. Sometimes, states have different medical education requirements for doctors. You can go for Continuing Medical Examination (CME) to maintain your licenses. CME is set by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

Areas Of Specialization To Become A Cardiologist

Generally, most cardiologists work as non-invasive cardiologists. Some cardiologists may step up into more non-invasive specialties. Now, as you have understood how to become a cardiologist let us have a look at the specialties and disciplines in the cardiology field.

  • Cardiology Surgeon: These surgeons perform surgeries on the heart and blood vessels of the chest cavity. For becoming a cardiology surgeon, you may require extensive education and training.
  • Interventional Cardiologists: They are trained in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases. You may need one to two years of additional education and training in this field.
  • Pediatric Cardiologist: Pediatric cardiologists are specialized in diagnosing and treating heart problems in children. You may need three to seven years to complete an internship and clinical residency training.
  • Echo Cardiologists: They are trained to pinpoint problems in your heart, detect blood clots, and evaluate the overall heart condition. It comes in the form of a 2-year associate’s degree program.
  • Electrophysiologist: These cardiologists focus on testing and treating problems involving irregular heart rhythms. It takes at least eight years of specialized training in this field.
  • Preventive Cardiologists: They are focused on lowering the patient’s risk for developing heart disease in the future.
  • Heart Failure Cardiologist: Heart failure cardiologists often work very closely with surgeons and they deal with very sick patients.
  • Nuclear Cardiologist: They use radioactive tracers to diagnose heart disease with MRI, CT, or other imaging techniques.
  • Cardiologist Director: A cardiologist director is the head of the cardiology department. It is the senior post in this respective department. Their job role is to lead and direct the programs and staff of the cardiology department.
  • Cardiac Catheterization Technologist: The job role of these technologists is to perform diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization. These people insert small catheters through a needle to determine X-rays to determine the heart’s structure and function.

Education Qualifications Needed To Become A Cardiologist

Cardiology education and training may take a longer time for some specialties. However, you need to meet medical school requirements. Let us have a look at the list of qualifications you may need.

  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Residency in internal medicine
  • Cardiology fellowships
  • Clinical experience
  • Research experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • MCAT scores
  • GPA scores

Skills Required To Become A Cardiologist

Cardiology is a specialized branch of medicine that requires a specific set of skills. I have mentioned some skills you may need for becoming a successful cardiologist.

  • Ability to perform complex surgical techniques.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Very attentive to minute details to ensure the best health for your patients.
  • Candidates need patience.
  • Ability to motivate and manage yourself.
  • Physical stamina to handle long days in the hospital ward.
  • Great organization skills to manage your own practices.
  • They must have enough confidence in referring to others when something is outside their expertise.
  • Individuals must have the potential to lead a team.

Duties Of A Cardiologist

The responsibilities of a cardiologist may vary depending on their level of experience and specialty. Below I have listed down the common duties cardiologists perform.

  • They prevent, diagnose, and treat medical conditions related to the heart and blood vessels.
  • Examining palpation, pulse, and blood pressure.
  • Measuring the functioning of the heart with an electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Performing cardiac stress tests.
  • Conduct echocardiogram tests to create images of the heart.
  • They are the ones who implant devices.
  • Implanting pacemakers in non-invasive surgical procedures.
  • Directing the cardiac catheterizations.
  • Performing angioplasty procedures to unblock arteries.
  • Ordering diagnostic tests and labs.
  • Analyzing results of diagnostic tests.
  • Diagnosing patients based on tests and lab results.
  • Creating customized treatment plans for all the patients.
  • Prescribing medications and therapy to treat conditions.
  • Providing ongoing care and follow-up with sick patients on their treatment progress.
  • Educating sick patients about the risk of heart disease and prevention techniques.
  • Collaborating with a patient’s primary care physician.
  • Completing medical interviews to assess new patients.

Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Cardiologist

Every medical field comes along with its own pros and cons. Being a cardiologist you may face some difficulties. Below I have listed down some pros and cons of this profession.

Pros 

  • Pay: Cardiologists can earn high salaries in every country.
  • Respect: This is one of the most respected professions globally.
  • Save Lives: You get a chance to save the lives of people.
  • Specialization: this profession opens many doors for specialization.

Cons

  • Cost: Becoming a cardiologist isn’t cheap. You need to invest a lot of money in your education.
  • Time: It can take at least 15 years to become a practicing cardiologist.
  • Hours: You need to work long and unconventional hours as a cardiologist.
  • Bearer Of Bad News: Sometimes, this profession can be emotionally draining for you.
  • Malpractice: It is found that many cardiologists are named in a malpractice lawsuit at least once in their careers.
  • Stress: The responsibility of saving the lives of patients can put some stress on your own heart too.

The Time Required To Become A Cardiologist

It will usually take at least 18 years to become a cardiologist. This field requires a lot of dedication to an extensive period of education and training. You can have a look at the sequence given below.

  • Bachelor’s Degree Program: 4 years
  • Medical School: 4 years
  • Licensing: 4 years
  • Residency Programs: 3 years
  • Fellowship: 3 years

Employment Opportunities For Cardiologist

I assumed that you have now understood how to become a cardiologist by now. I have listed below the top sectors and industries that hire cardiologists.

  1. Government Hospitals
  2. Private Hospitals
  3. Specialist Hospitals
  4. Armed Forces Medical Services
  5. Cardiology Clinics
  6. Private Practice

Medical Schools For A Cardiologist

By now you have studied how to become a cardiologist in detail. I have put forward the best medical schools for cardiology for you.

  1. Johns Hopkins University
  2. New York University (Langone)
  3. Stanford University
  4. University of California-San Francisco
  5. Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
  6. University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)
  7. University of California-Los Angeles

Salary

The average salary of a cardiologist is $340,076 per annum. The median wage for cardiologists is in excess of $240,000. It is no wonder why this profession is rewarded with a great salary. A cardiologist is among the top 5 highest paying professions globally. Here is a quick summary of the salaries of cardiologists.

Type of Cardiologist Range Average Annual Salary Range Average Hourly Rate
Invasive Cardiologist $285,344- $621,768 $422,686 $137- $299 $203
Non-invasive Cardiologist $247,841- $544,766 $388,436 $119- $262 $187
Pediatric Cardiologist $187,358- $418,840 $275,2645 $90- $201 $132

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FAQ

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Cardiologist?

It takes at least 18years to become a cardiologist. You can have a look at the sequence given below.

  • Bachelor’s Degree Program: 4 years
  • Medical School: 4 years
  • Licensing: 4 years
  • Residency Programs: 3 years
  • Fellowship: 3 years

How Do I Become A Cardiologist After 12?

To become a cardiologist after 12 you need to follow these steps.

  1. Get a bachelor’s degree
  2. Take MCAT
  3. Get into a medical school
  4. Obtain a medical license
  5. Complete a residency program
  6. Certification
  7. Complete a cardiology fellowship
  8. Additional Education

Is It Hard To Become A Cardiologist?

Yes, it is a little tough to become a cardiologist. This career field is challenging and often needs a lot of hard work and dedication.

Is NEET Required To Become A Cardiologist?

No, NEET is not required to become a cardiologist. The basic eligibility criteria you require is 10+2 in the science stream.

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Conclusion

I assume that you enjoyed this post on how to become a cardiologist. The journey of becoming a cardiologist is a long and challenging process. Individuals may need at least 18 years to become a cardiologist. However, your efforts will be fulfilling in the end. Your hard work and dedication pay off, so make sure you take our eight steps into consideration. Sometimes you may need to continue your education for maintaining your license. This will help you land on the job or your dreams. Thus, this guide about how to become a cardiologist will surely be helpful for you.

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