Becoming a Cardiologist
By Saanvi Aneja
Cardiology is a branch of medicine that deals with diseases and abnormalities of the heart, as well as circulatory pathways. In fact, a cardiologist is one of few doctors who can save a life in an in-flight situation. While being a cardiologist does not entail performing surgery, there are numerous non-invasive tests, such as electrocardiograms (ECG) or echocardiograms (Echo), that cardiologists use in their day-to-day lives .
As a highly competitive career, it is essential to start planning ahead if one plans on pursuing cardiology. The path starts with obtaining a bachelor's degree in a science or health-related field . Most cardiologists opt for a major in biology, chemistry, or cardiovascular technology. The four years spent working towards this degree will determine whether students are accepted into medical school, so it is imperative to maintain a high GPA along with impressive extracurriculars. Additionally, during their third year of college, students will take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This test majorly determines acceptance into a good medical school .
Medical school is four more years of education. One will be taking classes such as pathology and pharmacology and learning more about medicine in general. After a while, the students will work in a hospital where they display the skills they have built so far in real-life situations. A Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree will be earned in their last year of medical school .
The next step in this sequence is obtaining a medical license . One needs to take a series of exams to test their knowledge in the field of medicine, which will determine if they are ready for their future career. However, there is still more education to follow after this. Before specializing in the heart, one will have to complete a residency in internal medicine. Some specialties covered in internal medicine include oncology, respiratory medicine, and gastroenterology. These three years will also be important to build an individual portfolio and obtain letters of recommendation from different leaders in the field. These will all be beneficial when applying for a cardiology fellowship, which is “one of the most competitive internal medicine fellowships and requires another 3 years of training to complete” . The cardiology fellowship will teach a wide variety of cardiac conditions. Students will learn to perform procedures and conduct clinical research, and at the end of the fellowship, one will eventually earn their certification as a certified cardiologist. It is also possible to sub-specialize further in a field such as interventional cardiology or electrophysiology, although this will add an additional one or two years to one’s education . In total, becoming a cardiologist is a lengthy process that involves at least 14 years of education, including medical school, an internal medicine residency, and a cardiologist fellowship. However, more importantly, that experience is sure to be fulfilling.
HealthManagement.org. (2021, February 16). FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization for New COVID-19, Flu A, Flu B Combo Kit. HealthManagement. https://healthmanagement.org/c/cardio/post/how-to-become-a-cardiologist-in-5-steps-2
Jubbal, B. K. (2019, December 1). So You Want to Be a Cardiologist. Med School Insiders. https://medschoolinsiders.com/medical-student/so-you-want-to-be-a-cardiologist/