April 28, 2016
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Cardiology is a branch of medicine which deals specifically with disorders of the heart; encompassing the diagnosis, assessment and management of cardiovascular disease and disorders. Medical doctors with advanced knowledge of this are called cardiologists or cardiac surgeons.
An increasingly sedentary lifestyle combined with unhealthy food choices have led to a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from heart disease over the past couple of decades. A rapidly growing elderly population has added to the equation. To cope with this growing trend, healthcare providers specialising in cardiology are in huge demand all over the world.
In most cases, patients see their family doctor about discomfort or pain in the chest. Depending on the symptoms and other findings, their family doctor may then refer them to a cardiologist for further investigation and treatment if heart disease is suspected. At the first appointment, the cardiologist assesses the patient’s symptoms and also takes a detailed look at the patient’s medical history to determine the appropriate course of action.
In addition to diagnosing and treating all kinds of cardiovascular conditions, cardiologists also play a significant role in the area of prevention. They advise patients on the proper measures they should take to help reduce the risks of heart disease. If the diagnosis is not very clear, the cardiologist may order additional tests before recommending the best treatment avenue. Treatment may include a combination of lifestyle measures and prescription drugs. In some cases, alternative treatments are advised.
If a patient requires surgery, the cardiologist will refer them to a cardiovascular surgeon. Cardiovascular surgeons specialise in the surgical care of the heart, blood vessels and lungs.
Although cardiology is a specialist medical area, it is still a broad and highly complex field, which means there is ample scope for gaining in-depth knowledge in any one particular area of cardiology. While all cardiologists will deal with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of all types of cardiac conditions, you can choose to go on further to specialise in specific interventional procedures or cardiac surgery. Alternatively, you could elect to specialise in a field such as paediatric cardiology, that focuses on providing cardiac care to younger children.
Another important area for cardiologists is in research. Cardiologists provide valuable help in research and pharmaceutical companies to guide research into new treatments and drugs to treat cardiovascular conditions.
While you may be interested in the field of cardiology, it is not without its intense challenges. As a cardiologist, you will have to deal with the psychological aspect of encouraging lifestyle changes in patients. It can often be frustrating to deal with patients making bad lifestyle choices like smoking and poor diet. Cardiologists need to be compassionate and patient, with the ability to relay information in a realistic and manageable way.
Becoming a cardiologist involves several years of intensive study. If you want to find out more about the role before you commit to pursuing this as a career, you may want to think about doing a shadowing placement in a hospital or clinic.
Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.