The heart is undeniably one of the most vital organs in the body. It’s responsible for various functions such as pumping blood and distributing all the nutrients and oxygen needed throughout the body.
Like with any part of the body, it can experience issues like cardiovascular diseases. When that happens, most people turn to doctors to diagnose the problem and provide the necessary treatment.
However, you can’t just go to any doctor when you experience heart problems – you need to go to a specialist, namely, a cardiologist.
Cardiologists are medical doctors that specialize in everything related to the heart. They have the knowledge and expertise needed to diagnose heart diseases and conditions accurately as well as prescribe the appropriate treatments.
They underwent extensive studying and training so that they can practice as a medical doctor and specialize in cardiology.
Aside from treating heart conditions, they can also provide the proper course of action so that individuals can reduce the risks of heart diseases and other heart-related conditions.
To become a cardiologist and practice as one, you need to undergo extensive learning and training. You also need to obtain the necessary credentials and experience to practice as a licensed cardiologist.
Check out the following information if you want to enter the field of cardiology.
The first step to becoming a cardiologist or any medical professional is to earn and obtain your bachelor’s degree. This involves taking a four-year course in most countries, often majoring in science-related fields like chemistry, biology, and others.
Your undergraduate degree will be considered as your pre-medical course and serve as your preparation for the next step. Most consider it vital to study well and obtain high grades as these increase the likelihood of being accepted into medical school.
Once you’re done with your undergrad, the next step would be to apply to the medical schools of your choice. However, before doing so, you need to take the MCAT or Medical College Admissions Test and obtain an acceptable score.
Remember that many medical schools require that your results be less than three years old to be considered valid. The necessary score to be accepted at med school usually depends on the institution you’re applying to. However, a good rule to abide by is to aim for at least 505 or more if you want to qualify for med schools.
Once you have your MCAT results, you can begin applying to medical schools where you will spend another four years training to become a doctor and cardiologist. During this time, you’ll learn everything you need to know about becoming a medical professional.
The first two years of med school typically involves the theoretical aspect of becoming a doctor, learning about subjects like anatomy, pharmacology, how to conduct medical interviews, etc. Meanwhile, the last two years typically involve the more hands-on aspects, such as going on clinical rotations, before graduating.
Medical school is a crucial time for potential cardiologists as this is when they learn about the fundamental skills necessary to become a doctor.
Once you’ve graduated from med school, the next step to becoming a cardiologist is by participating in a residency program for your preferred specialization. Doing so allows future cardiologists to understand their field better and have more hands-on experience under the supervision of established physicians.
Residencies vary from specialty to specialty. For future cardiologists, internal medicine residency programs can take up to three years. It’s also advised that you build your portfolio as a professional during this time and obtain recommendations from established physicians in the field.
These will allow you to establish yourself in the field of cardiology and help you during your cardiology fellowship.
After finishing your residency program, you need to become certified by the appropriate regulatory body. For example, in the US, you need to take the exam set by the American Board of Internal Medicine to become board-certified in internal medicine.
After your residency and internal medicine certification exam, you need to complete a fellowship program in the field of cardiology. This typically lasts for another three years and will help you learn more about the specialization before becoming a full-fledged cardiologist.
During this time, you’ll work more closely with other physicians in the field, allowing you to gain more advanced knowledge about cardiology.
Once the fellowship is over, you can take the Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam set by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Completing this and passing it means that you’re now a board-certified cardiologist.
For further sub-specializations in cardiology, you must meet the necessary qualifications, especially for invasive and more delicate procedures like transplants, nuclear cardiology, and more.
The path to becoming a cardiologist isn’t an easy one, taking a lot of time, effort, and often resources to obtain the crucial training and expertise to diagnose and treat heart conditions accurately.
Nevertheless, cardiologists are some of the community’s most vital members, helping patients with heart conditions by diagnosing the problem and providing them with the necessary treatment plan for their conditions.
They can also use their expertise to provide the community members the necessary information to keep their hearts healthy and strong.