A specialty within internal medicine, cardiology focuses on diagnosing and treating diseases and issues affecting the heart and cardiovascular system. The most common issues treated by cardiologists include heart disease, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Cardiology, also known as cardiovascular disease, can be further broken down into sub-specialties. Those interested in dealing with adult patients can specialize to become adult congenital cardiologists. Those looking to work with younger patients should consider pediatric cardiology. General clinical cardiologists will work with patients experiencing long-term cardiovascular complications that require consistent monitoring and maintenance. Detail-oriented individuals who are interested in surgery may consider becoming cardiothoracic surgeons. The above list is not exhaustive, for a more complete list of subspecialties within cardiology click here. In many cases, a cardiologist will choose to specialize in more than one subspecialty. This allows them to work with diverse needs.

Residency and Fellowship

To become a cardiologist, medical graduates must complete a three-year residency in internal medicine followed by a three-year fellowship in cardiology or one of its subspecialties. Between 2018 and 2019 there were 28,420 residents in internal medicine. Of these, 11,051 identified as IMGs. For more information on the distribution of IMGs in U.S. residency positions during 2018 and 2019 check out the ACGME’s Data Resource Book.

After completing residency, an individual may elect to specialize in cardiology or one of its subspecialties. Fellowships can take between two and three years. For an outline for how many years each subspecialty within cardiology requires, click here.

Practicing as a Physician

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there is just are more than 22,000 cardiologists in the U.S. During 2019, the average cardiologist made $430,000 a year. This number has steadily increased over the last few years placing Cardiology among the four highest-earning areas of medicine.

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