Are you looking for a medical specialty that challenges you? Do you like working with children? If you answered yes to both questions, a career in pediatric cardiology could be a good option.
Pediatric cardiology is the pediatrics subspecialty that focuses on assessing, diagnosing, and managing heart issues affecting adolescents. Cases frequently seen by pediatric cardiologists include abnormal heart rhythms, heart disease or failure, heart murmurs, and chest pain.
Most cases are congenital, meaning the patient was born with the issue. This differs from adult cases managed by cardiologists. Adult patients may have congenital heart issues, but many times the issues they experience are considered acquired, having developed over time as a symptom of lifestyle choices and practices.
Those with a pediatric cardiology subspecialty degree are called pediatric cardiologists. Depending on the case at hand, pediatric cardiologists may consult with or refer patients to a pediatric nephrologist or pediatric pulmonologist. They will also work with a pediatric heart surgeon should the patient need surgery to manage or correct things.
For educational requirements to become a pediatric cardiologist, continuing reading below.
Pediatric Cardiology Residency
To become a pediatric cardiologist, medical graduates must first complete post-graduate training in the specialty of pediatrics. Pediatric Residency programs generally last three years and provide individuals with the foundational knowledge they can rely on when caring for younger patients who are still growing. According to the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education, there were 9,221 pediatric residents between 2018 and 2019. Of these residents, 1,819, or just under 20%, identified as international medical graduates. This data places pediatrics somewhere in the middle when it comes to medical specialties that are more IMG friendly.
After completing the residency, the next step to practicing pediatric cardiology is to complete a fellowship. Fellowships provide more focused training. While most fellowships last 1-2 years, pediatric cardiology fellowships last three years, meaning medical graduates interested in this area can expect to spend 6 years obtaining their post-graduate education before being able to practice as a physician.
Pediatric cardiologists should be good with kids and people in general. Often, the case at hand may be serious, which can be scary for the patient and difficult for the parents. Having the communication skills to put both parties at ease is essential.
Pediatric cardiologists must find fun and engaging ways to speak with their young patients as they may not readily communicate their feelings or understand what is going on.
Because pediatric cardiologist may have to give bad news to a patient who is just beginning their life, the position can be emotionally taxing. For this reason, having a good work-life balance and hobbies to release stress, such as exercising or doing art, can be important.
When it comes to income, the average pediatric cardiologist in the U.S. made around $278,000. Because these healthcare professionals have a higher level of education than pediatricians, they do make a better living. Pediatricians make around $200,000.
Are you interested in exploring the subspecialty of pediatric cardiology?
A pediatric cardiology clinical experience with AMO is a great place to start!