How to Become a Cardiologist

A cardiologist is a physician and internist who specializes in treating diseases that affect the cardiovascular system. Heart disease, or cardiopathy,  is one of the leading causes of death in many industrial nations, including the United States, so opportunities in this field are numerous.

Education

You will need to complete an undergraduate degree, usually in the sciences. Once you have completed medical school, you will need to complete residency at an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited internal medicine residency program, for a minimum of three years. You are required to have at least two years of contact with patients and demonstrate increased responsibility as you progressed in your training. Once completed, you will take and pass the Internal Medicine Board Certification Examination.

Then, you can begin specialized training to become a cardiologist. This is an additional twenty-four months of training, including training in interpreting specific tests that cardiologists will have to interpret. They will be required to complete both laboratory and clinical hours treating patients.

Tips and Advice

Entrance into medical school is highly competitive. Select an undergraduate school where you will excel, whether small or large campus, prestigious or relatively unknown. It is your ability that the admissions committee will be examining, not the prestige of your school, since even excellent students can do poorly in a school with a famous reputation.

While in college, you will need to meet the requirements for medical school admissions, but you should also take as many courses as you can in biology, chemistry and physiology. With cardiology as your goal, it may also be helpful to take courses in pharmacology, sports physiology and kinesiology.

When you apply to medical school, try to identify schools that are attached to well-known cardiology centers or schools that include cardiologists as professors. One of the ways to do this is to conduct research on online databases such as PubMed or MedLine Plus and determine where the paper authors are currently conducting research or teaching. This information is usually included in the author biographies attached to the papers. Reading some of these articles or monographs, and trying to conduct research in this area, even as an undergraduate, not yet admitted to medical school, will help you when applying to medical school and in your medical school courses.

Take advantage of all of the test preparation resources that you can. You can read books, take tests online, and use the services of your career center to practice medical admissions interviews. You will be competing with other applicants who have used all of these means and more to enter medical school, so you should do the same.

Different Types

A cardiologist may pursue specialized training in four different subtypes: echocardiography, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology and nuclear cardiology. These subtypes are based on new types of treatments. For example, echocardiography uses ultrasound technology to examine the chambers of the heart. Each of these specialties require an additional year of training.