Do you dream of becoming a cardiologist? Cardiologist is the formal name for a doctor who specialises on the medical treatment of health problems. As with most medical specialisations, it involves a lot of time and effort, but it is also a very rewarding career as you will be saving people’s life. It is also generally a well paid career choice that has minimal unemployment and plenty of professional prestige. Keep reading to learn how to become a cardiologist!
Cardiologist Career Path: Highlights
Table Of Contents
In order to become a fully licensed cardiologist you will require:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Passing the Medical College Admissions Test
- 4 years of medical school
- Steps one and two of the USMLE exam
- 3 years internal medicine residency
- 2 to 3 years cardiology fellowship
Cardiologist Academic Path: Undergrads
The first step towards becoming a cardiologist is a bachelor’s degree from an undergraduate college or university. While the major is not terribly important at this stage, most cardiologists majored in some science related subject such as biology or chemistry. Otherwise fulfilling the pre-requirements to enter a medical school would involve selecting subjects carefully as an undergraduate in order to get the required academic credits. A science major will also make it easier for you to get useful knowledge for the subjects you will need to study at medical school, but if you are majoring in something else don’t worry: you can still become a cardiologist.
Medical School Requirements
Every medical school has different pre-requisites and entrance requirements, but generally a year of biology, chemistry, and physics are mandatory. You will most likely need some degree of Math, and the more prestigious the school the more difficult it will be to get in and the more exhaustive the requirements. Advanced microbiology and biochemistry can help as well. In order to learn the exact requirements of your preferred medical school you should get a copy of the MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements) handbook, which is published yearly, which you can get from University libraries or online from places such as Amazon. You can do a bit extra homework and contact them directly in case there are particular requirements that aren’t written on the book, but don’t do it before you actually have researched the basics. Most medical schools value extra curricular activities in the Healthcare sector, so your chances will increase if you work or volunteer in healthcare.
Medical College Admissions Test
Along with the required study credits, you will also need to pass the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) exam, a day-long examination focused on science to ensure you have the basic knowledge you will require for the first two years of medical school. This is a multiple choice question tests, and you need to be prepared to study a lot for it. Learning how to become a cardiologist involves lots of studying, so this test is used to weed out people without the knowledge or willpower to set themselves to the task fully. Most people apply to medical school several times before they get in, particularly in the best ones which everybody looks at when selecting the best cardiologist specialisation. So be prepared to keep trying, and use the time in between applications to improve your experience and get some extra-curricular activities or academic credits geared towards the health field.
Medical School And Specialising To Be A Cardiologist
Once into medical school, 4 years of intense academic curriculum await you before you can become a cardiologist. This is a challenge even for highly motivated students, but if you want to know how to become a cardiologist you need to be aware of the challenges involved. The first two years you will study general science subjects such as physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, microbiology or pathology. At this point, you are taking the same courses as any other medicine student, notwithstanding their future specialisation. After those initial 2 years, you will need to take the Step One of the USMLE exam, which is a national medical licensing exam, which you need to pass in order to continue your studies as a doctor. Years 3 and 4 of medical school focus on the clinical aspect of being a doctor, and you will need to take Step Two of the USMLE exam to graduate. During your last year you will need to start applying to residency programs. Those are postgraduate jobs that you must complete in order to become a licensed doctor. If your goal is becoming a cardiologist, you will need to apply for a residence in internal medicine, which usually last 3 years. You will be a working doctor, but under close supervision and with a smaller paycheck than a regular doctor.
After Residency: Final Steps To Becoming a Cardiologist
Now you are a licensed doctor, you can work as one but further training is required after completing your internal medicine residency in order to achieve the specialisation in Cardiology. You will need to spend another two to three years working towards your fellowship in cardiology. Further to this, you can choose to get even more speciality training to become an interventional cardiologist, which allows you to do minor surgical procedures on patients. This can take another two years, and not all cardiologists choose to go this way. Hopefully learning about how to become a cardiologist hasn’t put you off the idea, as it’s a really rewarding career choice for those dedicated enough to see it through. Before you commit to it you should talk with your school advisor who can help you with advice on grants and economic support, and maybe even talk with a real cardiologist in order to decide if becoming a cardiologist is for you.