What Is a Cardiologist? - Job Description, Duties, and Job Outlook

Cardiologist duties are specific to the heart, and the cardiologist job outlook shows positive growth expected for the field. Learn more about cardiologist responsibilities and other facts that contribute to a well-rounded cardiologist job description. Schools offering Cardiovascular Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Cardiologist Job Description

A cardiologist is a specialty doctor trained to care for the health of their patients' hearts and blood vessels. They diagnose and treat a wide range of heart-related illnesses and even work to prevent them. Here we discuss cardiologist information in more detail.

Cardiologist Duties

Cardiologists are similar to other doctors in that they must evaluate their patients, examine their medical histories, and develop a plan of treatment. They must also be able to answer patients' questions and communicate with the patients' family during treatment. However, many of their job duties are specific to caring for the heart. Specific cardiologist responsibilities may include:

  • Order medical tests, like echocardiograms, angiograms, or cardiac catheterization
  • Counsel patients about risks with heart disease
  • Advise patients on ways to prevent heart disease
  • Suggest diet and wellness changes to patients
  • Treat heart attacks, heart rhythm issues, and heart failure
  • Prescribe heart medications

Cardiologist Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the outlook for physicians and surgeons from 2016 to 2026 is 13%. This expected job growth is faster than the national average. The BLS contributes this in part to the aging population and need for health care.

The BLS also reported that physicians and surgeons typically work in physicians' offices. These doctors may also work in academia, hospitals, or other healthcare organizations.

How to Become a Cardiologist

Some requirements for becoming any kind of doctor are the same, while others are very specific to a doctor's chosen area of emphasis. For example, becoming a cardiologist is different than becoming a pediatrician.

Most doctors, including cardiologists, begin their education with a 4-year bachelor's degree. Typically this degree is in an area of science, but there is no specific major requirement. After earning their bachelor's degree, aspiring physicians must then complete 4 years of medical school to earn their M.D. (Medical Doctor) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).

During medical school, students complete rotations in various areas of medicine to help them identify their chosen area of specialty. After graduating medical school, students must complete a residency program in this specialty area. For cardiologists, a cardiology residency program may last 3 years or more and further trains students in heart-related medicine and techniques, such as cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging and coronary angiography.

After completing a residency program, aspiring doctors can sit for their national licensure exam. Licensure is required in all states for doctors to practice, but board certifications may be optional. A cardiologist seeking certification must have at least 10 years of clinical and educational experience. They must pass a specialty certification exam that is given by the American Board of Internal Medicine and takes 2 days to complete.

Other Cardiologist Facts

Cardiologists generally work full-time, but may need to work irregular hours to treat patients. Some cardiologists may also choose to conduct research, publish their findings, and/or teach the next generation of aspiring cardiologists.

According to Payscale.com, cardiologists made an average annual salary of $245,344 as of June 2019. Over time this salary is expected to increase, with cardiologists late in their career (20 years or more of experience) making an average salary of $276,630.

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