So you want to be a cardiologist

July 1, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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So you think you want to be a cardiologist. Good choice. Working in cardiology can be fascinating and rewarding. You have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. In fact, you may even save lives.

But where do you start?

Your pathway into Cardiology

Becoming a cardiologist involves many years of schooling. After high school, and four years of undergrad studies, you can plan on about four more years of med school. But that’s not all. You also need to complete a cardiology residency, which can vary in length. Most doctors complete a three-year internal medicine residency, followed by a fellowship in cardiology, which may be three or four years.

It might seem like a long road to becoming a cardiologist, but it’s a challenge that is often worth the hard work. Before you invest all that time into a career as a cardiologist, it makes sense to be sure it’s what you want. One of the best ways you can learn more about the field is by gaining hospital shadowing work experience.

Hospital shadowing experience may allow you the opportunity to see what the day to day responsibilities of a cardiologist involve.  You probably have a general idea of what a doctor does. But when it comes to the responsibilities of a specialist, such as a cardiologist, you might not be sure.

During your hospital shadowing work experience, you may have the chance to watch a cardiologist interact with patients, perform physical exams and review cardiac tests. The types of procedures you get to watch may vary. But you may get to learn about different cardiac procedures, such as an echocardiogram, EKG and angiogram.

Cardiology subspecialties

During your shadowing experience, you might find out more about subspecialties within the field of cardiology. It might be surprising to find out that cardiology is more than just one specialty and subspecialties include interventional cardiology, transplant cardiology and pediatric cardiology. Make the most of your time shadowing by watching and listening to everything you can. Ask questions and talk to people in the field.

Preparing for Cardiology

In addition to gaining hospital shadowing experience, there are a few additional ways to prepare to be a cardiologist. Keep in mind, it does not hurt to start preparing early. If you’re still in high school, you should take several science classes, such as biology, chemistry and anatomy. Not only will science classes give you the foundation you need for advanced classes, but it may help you decide if the field is right for you.

It’s also a good idea to volunteer in a hospital. Similar to your hospital shadowing experience, volunteering in a hospital will give you the opportunity to become familiar with different medical professions. If a volunteer job offers the chance to interact with patients, that’s also a plus. If possible, talk to others who are pursuing a career in cardiology. For example, consider visiting online forums or social media sites for med students.

Finding hospital shadowing experience in the US can be tough. Thankfully, a placement shadowing physicians overseas will give you much of the same skills and strengthen that all-important university application.


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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.