Cardiologist Career Profile

As a physician and internist, a cardiologist treats the cardiovascular system and the evaluate and treat patients, from infants to the elderly.

Basic Tasks

A cardiologist's duties may vary depending on their subspeciality. Cardiologists can specialize in echocardiography, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, nuclear cardiology and pediatric cardiology.

Cardiologists use both invasive and non-invasive techniques to treat cardiovascular problems. Invasive techniques are treatments that break the skin or when an object is inserted into the body, such as a surgery. An example of an invasive technique in cardiography is cardiac catheterization where a tube is inserted into an artery while a patient undergoes local anesthetic. Non-invasive techniques would include taking a person's pulse and echocardiology, the use of ultrasound for diagnostic purposes.

Cardiologists usually spend a portion of their time in hospitals in the cardiac care unit, making rounds, seeing, evaluating and treating patients. They will also usually have their own offices where they treat patients. Some of their time will be spent performing examinations, procedures, and diagnosing and treating conditions. They are responsible for keeping records and providing patient education. They will also be expected to consult with other healthcare professionals, such as cardiac surgeons, as part of their work in the hospital or shared practice, on administrative duties, consulting on patient care and treatment.

Work Schedule

Most physicians, cardiologists included, work more than sixty hours a week. Cardiologists also often work with patients whose conditions are chronic and possibly life threatening, so they are on call for emergencies, which may necessitate call outs at odd hours.

However, there are also cardiology positions in communities that advertise generous vacation time, up to thirteen weeks a year, as well as four day work weeks. A cardiology researcher may work a regular full-time schedule and will not be placed on call or expected to treat patients at any hour.

Salary

According to the American Medical Group Association Annual Salary Survey, the average salary for a cardiologist is $398,034 per year. The average starting salary in this field is $292,000. The highest paid region in this field is in the north, with an average annual salary of $405,704.

Opportunities

Though many cardiologists work with older patients, you can specialize in pediatric cardiology and treat infants, children and adolescents with congenital heart conditions or who have acquired heart disease. Work as a pediatric cardiologist usually requires specializing in pediatric cardiology, accepting an internship in pediatric cardiology or completing a post doctoral fellowship in this field.

Cardiologists are also engaged in research and are affiliated with hospitals and medical schools. As researchers, you would select variables that affect specific conditions, measure the effect of the variables or different interventions, or explore the appropriate treatment for cardiovascular conditions. Researchers work with patients, research subjects and other researchers, such as other physicians, exercise specialists, bioengineers, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. They collect and analyze data, write papers and make presentations about their research. They may also teach classes at medical schools.

There are also opportunities to own your own practice or to become a partner in an established cardiology practice. Some cardiologists will move into positions as the head of cardiology, supervising the work of other cardiologists and cardiac healthcare professionals, in addition to other administrative tasks.