What is a cardiologist?
The word cardiologist is derived from the Greek language. Cardiologist is derivative from the Greek words kardia; meaning heart, and logia; meaning study. Thus a cardiologist is literally a person who is trained and specializes in the medical field of diagnosing and treating anomalies in the heart and cardiovascular system. This is an exceedingly specialized profession that boasts with greatly dedicated and highly trained individuals.
Job description of a cardiologist
Cardiologists are professional specialized doctors who trained and received a medical qualification in the vast study of the heart muscle and the whole cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular structure is a closed organ-circulatory system that circulates blood to and from the lungs and the rest of the body. This system is powered by the heart muscle, which systematically and steadily pumps blood via the blood-vessel network. The blood is transported or “pumped” away from the contracting heart-muscle via the main artery called the dorsal aorta. An artery is a blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, including the lungs. The dorsal aorta splits into a vast number of sub-arteries; which form part of an intricate and complex network, with the main objective to supply every region of the body with fresh blood. This supply-chain works by ways of capillaries. Capillaries are exceptionally thin blood vessels that connect the arteries with veins; which are the blood vessels that reroute the carbon-dioxide and waste rich blood back to the heart. Arteries and veins run approximately parallel to each other throughout the body, and they are connected to body tissue by means of capillaries. The capillaries aid in the exchange of oxygen-rich blood via the arteries to supply body tissue with said oxygen. Exchange of gasses occur in the body tissue, which then results in carbon-dioxide and other waste rich blood, which is then transported via the capillaries back to the veins. Veins then transport the blood back to the heart, making use of valves within the veins to ensure that the waste-rich blood continually keeps moving towards the heart. Thus, a cardiologist does not just specialize in the study of the actual heart muscle; but in the cardiovascular system as a whole. When your local GP or general practitioner (house doctor), suspects that there might be an anomaly concerning your cardiovascular system; he/she will refer you to a cardiologist. The cardiologist will then proceed in diagnosing and treating your illness accordingly. Understandably this is a vast in infinitely specialized field, and requires dedicated and immensely highly trained and experienced medical doctors.
How to become a cardiologist?
Becoming a cardiologist is not a simple task; the path to get there will be long and grueling. Firstly you will need to obtain a bachelor degree from a certifiable undergraduate university or college. This will take you four years. Majoring in science or biology is not a prerequisite to become a cardiologist; although if you do it will certainly escalate the pace at which you can start practicing as a medical doctor. After you have successfully obtained your bachelor’s degree, you will have to get accepted by a medical school.
The prerequisites of getting into med school is one year’ studying in biology, one year in chemistry, one year in organic chemistry and one year in physics, hence the four-year bachelor program. Most medical schools also have a minimum math- and English requirement, as well as advanced biochemistry and microbiology. In addition to the prerequisites (which differs from school to school), you will have to pass a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This test is a day-long written examination which is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the basic sciences. This examination is notoriously difficult to pass, resulting in many aspiring medical doctors throwing in the towel. It is imperative that your studying towards this test is determined and effective, as it is paramount to becoming part of the medical professional field. Once you’ve been accepted into medical school, you will embark on a four-year study course. The first two years predominantly focuses on a general sciences curriculum; which includes physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, pathology, embryology and microbiology. After you have successfully succeeded in these two years of intense and dedicated studying, you will have to take Step One of the national medical licensing exam to be permitted to the next two years of studying. After completing year three and four of this leg of your studying, you will be able to take the second step of the national medical licensing exam. In your fourth/final year of medical school you will work as a residential intern. You must complete your internship in an internal medicine environment to become a cardiologist. A residential intern is the paramount link of crossing the bridge from medical student to professional doctor. As a residential intern, you will principally be working as a medical doctor, but you will be under close mentor-ship and supervision. Residential interns receive a small salary in this phase of their education. The internal medicine internship takes three years to complete. After said completion, you will have to train an additional two to three years to be accepted into the fellowship of cardiologists. Only then will you be allowed to practice as a professional medical cardiologist.
The work environment of a cardiologist
As is the case with most of the medical field; cardiologists have to be able to function exceptionally well in a highly pressured and tense environment. Cardiologists usually work from their private offices; although some base themselves in clinics or hospitals. Cardiologists require a small medical- and administrative trained staff to assist them in both their offices and in the actual hospital.
Cardiologists are also “on call”; which refers to their responsibility to be called for assistance at a hospital when an emergency occurs that requires the cardiologist’s expertise.
Pros and Cons of being a cardiologist
The main advantage when working as a cardiologist is the help that you give to other people in need for a better life. The benefits that come from this is a high salary, and the prestige that this career brings. The cons in this job include the long hours of work, where it is necessary to take the best decisions in stressful situations that will link your life to the patient’s life. The fact that you’ll have to interrupt many times your plans for a call on an emergency that could happen at any hour of the day or even at night.
Another con will link with your work schedule because in the area where you work might not be as many qualified cardiologists as you expect. In that case, you’ll have to make time to go and see all the patients and treat them. It is well known that many cardiologists work from time to time 60 hours per week on a regular basis.
One of the pros of this job except the rewarding for being there on time to save a life consist in the large payment that you get as well as the compensation. Being a cardiologist will take you to a great, solid benefits package that mainly includes health coverage and a well-structured retirement plan and benefits.
Working as a cardiologist also means to fulfill the educational requirements that usually consist of a bachelor’s degree plus a medical school. You can easily finish the bachelor’s degree program within a four-year period, and the additional medical school will take four years extra to finish. Then after you’ve graduated you’ll have to enroll in a residency program that can be summed up between four to eight years.
The main con here is that the eight years of college and medical school are pretty expensive. Furthermore, in order to own and maintain the freedom of practice, you’ll have to fulfill a residency program that will cost as well. Your debt might gather up until you’ll finally start earning the high amounts of salaries as a cardiologist.
Cardiologist Job Growth
The employment growth according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is favorable with 18% increase for all Physicians and Surgeons, this including the cardiologists. The job prospects are good since there is a strong number of demanding due to the aging population at the risk of heart diseases and not only. The employment growth also varies according to the area of specialization of a cardiologist, but mainly there are good job opportunities.
There are plenty of work settings for cardiologists the most common where these professionals can find work are in hospitals, outpatient care centers, universities or within self-employed offices or private practices. With other words, the projected job growth for the next five to ten years is good due to the number of increase cases and the number of demanding that is getting higher and higher.
The fact that cardiologist brings home a hefty pay check is really a no-brainer. Seeing as medical students will have a studies-debt of anything from $140.000 upwards, it is paramount that the financial prospects of becoming a medical professional; must quite simply be very lucrative. Most successful med-school graduates decide to specialize in a specific field of the medical profession, in contrast to becoming a general practitioner. Thus the studies-debt will be pushed further into the red; but the financial rewards are definitely reconcilable with the put into working towards your acceptance into the fellowship of cardiologists. That is; if you can bite the bit and push through all required.
Orthopaedic surgeons, cardiologists and urologists are the highest paid professionals in the vast field of medicine. Orthopaedic surgeons bring home an annual paycheck of $519.000, while Cardiologist smiles all the way to the bank with their hard-earned average of $512.000. Urologists comes in third with an average annual income of $461.000. These figures are based on averages in the USA, and don’t include production bonuses or benefits.
Cardiologists that have only recently finished their education will have to do with an average of $210.000 annual income. After five years in the field, they can expect their salary to go up with another approximate $280.000.
The field of cardiology is split into invasive and non-invasive cardiology.
1. Non-invasive cardiologists run their practice from their office. A non-invasive cardiologist sees about twenty eight patients per day on average. The meet with the patient, run multiple specialized tests on the said patient, and deliver their professional diagnosis of the patient’s anomaly. These tests range from EKG’s, ECHOS’s, stress tests and the relatively new “nuclear camera”. This is where a camera is used to take pictures of the patient’s heart muscle after the patient is injected with radioactive dye. This form of treatment has proved to be imminently more successful in diagnosing specific cardiovascular disorders than the previously mentioned methods. Thus a non-invasive cardiologist do not actually operate on patients; their objective is to meet with the patient in their private practice, perform a diagnosis on the involved patient, and if possible; treat the patient using non-invasive procedures. Diagnosis is primarily done on the basis of cardiac catheterization. This is a process that is used to detect cardiovascular blockages. Thus the non-invasive cardiologist tends to s divide their time into meeting with patients in their private office and performing lab work in the “cath-lab”. Non-invasive treatment can result in anything from prescribing an improved or specialized diet-plan or medication. Non-invasive cardiologists earn about $400.000 annually.
2. Invasive cardiologists:
If a blockage is found, and an additional procedure is required to treat the patient in question, the non-invasive cardiologist will have to refer said patient to an invasive, non-interventional or invasive interventional cardiologist for the required surgery. The difference between the invasive, non-interventional and the latter is the following:
Invasive, non-interventional cardiologist:
These cardiologists divide their time between their private offices, the cath-lab and the hospital surgery room.
They bring in approximately $454.000 per year.
Invasive interventional cardiologist: In addition to the three years required to be accepted into the fellowship, these cardiologists elect to partake in a further 1-2 years of training.
Invasive interventional cardiology is the most advanced and specialized sub-field of cardiology. Most invasive interventional cardiologists spend their greatest amount of office hours in the surgery room, performing intricate operations and related procedures. A typical invasive interventional cardiologist will perform about 100 angioplasties, 300 catheterizations and other related medical procedures per year.
An invasive interventional cardiologist can look forward to earning a median salary or $545.000 annually.
In hind sight, the financial incentive for studying to become a cardiologist can justly be reconciled with the considerable time and immense effort put into obtaining the qualification that is prerequisite to register as a cardiologist.
Salary of a cardiologist in 2015
Cardiology is one of the branches well-paid in the industry of health care. Working as a cardiologist will bring you huge benefits. In 2014, the median average salary for a cardiologist in US was quoted at approximately $402,992 per year. Besides the payment as mentioned earlier you’ll receive a good salary compensation that will vary according to each state and the facility in which you work.
Starting with the year 2015 the number of demand will grow in the health care system due to the number of demand from the cases that gather up and the facilities that lack these heath care providers and professionals. A cardiologist is very important, and it’s a huge need for the other specialties, not to mention that building up relations can be rewarding. At the same time, it’s worth the effort of seeing that your knowledge has led to saving the lives of patients.
Cardiologist Salary in 2016
The incomes of cardiologists for the year 2016, in the United States, vary according to numerous factors such as the geographical location, type of employment, years of experience, the setting in which one individual has found work and the area of specialty.
According to the Payscale’s figures, the average income of a cardiologist is estimated to be at around $210,220 per year. The median income is influenced by the early mentioned factors, and it differs from state to state. For instance, if you are working in Minnesota you can expect to take home an average income that gets around $206,010 per year while if you are located with your job in South Dakota, then you can expect to yearly earnings of around $204,010 per year.
The salaries of these professionals tend to range from $71,217 per year and up to $413,627 per year or even higher. These estimations include bonuses as well according to Payscale. The bonuses are usually estimated to go up to $50,895 per year while without them the incomes of cardiologists tend to be comprised between $67,872 per year and up to $396,867 per year.
The major factor that usually affects the most the annual payment for this group is the working setting. For instance cardiologists that are working in general hospitals can expect to take home an income estimated to be comprised from $51,523 per year and up to $412,073 per year while those who found work in private practices can expect to earn a higher income that usually ranges between $98,390 per year and up to $440,422 per year.
Another factor that influences a cardiologist income is the area of specialty. For instance, a pediatric cardiologist can expect to take home around $241,016 per year while an interventional cardiologist earns around $312,363 per year. The differences in the salaries continue, invasive cardiologists can expect to take home earnings that range between $77,567 per year and $373,128 per year or even higher while non-invasive cardiologists can expect at earnings comprised between $82,551 per year and up to $364,967 per year. These incomes can differ and be quoted even higher, depending on each physician and the factors that impact and affect the salaries.
Cardiologist’s salary in the UK, Canada and Australia
- In the UK, a cardiologist can expect to earn a median annual salary £95.000 – £105.000.
- In Australia, a cardiologist can expect to earn a median annual salary of between AU$ 153.000 – AU$ 206.000.
- In Canada, a cardiologist can expect to earn around $250.000 – $390.000 per year.
These are obviously approximates. The cardiologist’s experience in the field, whether he works for his own practice or a clinic/ hospital, and whether he/she is an invasive, non-invasive or conventional cardiologist obviously counts towards the amount that will be earned.
Conclusion on a cardiologist’s salary
Can we derive to a conclusive answer to whether it is worth it to go through years and years of intense studying and hard work; to become a cardiologist? Yes; it is most certainly worth it in financial terms. Only an elite few ever get to be a cardiologist, and ever fewer specialize in the field. The fact that it is so expensive to go to medical school, that the road to being accepted into the fellowship, and that few people have the intellectual and mental ability to actually do so; makes this a very sought after profession. If you do possess the abilities needed to succeed in the medical field, and you have it in you to enjoy the stressful work-environment that comes with the name-tag, the road to financial success is most definitely paved for you; if you’re prepared to bit the bit and work immensely hard to get there.
So what have we learned from this article?
- A cardiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the field of the cardiovascular system of the human body. The cardiovascular system consists of the heart en the vast network of arteries, veins and capillaries that connect all body-tissue with the heart. Thus the cardiologist is a medically trained individual who diagnoses and treats patients who have any kinds of problems associated with the heart or cardiovascular system.
- The cardiologist must be able to flourish in a highly stressful and tense environment. Not only must he be able to think clearly and handle these situations well; he must actually enjoy it. A cardiologist splits his time between the lab, the hospital and his offices.
- It really doesn’t matter where in the world a cardiologist finds himself; he will without a doubt make a great deal of money.
In conclusion; if a person has the financial, intellectual and emotional abilities to enter the work-field of a cardiologist, the financial rewards will most certainly be impressive, by anyone’s standards.
- First Published Date: 18 August, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 22 August, 2016