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Cardiology is a field that focuses on the treatment, diagnosis, and management of cardiovascular or circulatory disorders, including arteries, heart, and veins. There are two sub-divisions in the field of cardiology: non-invasive and invasive.
Medical professionals who study invasive cardiology perform various procedures, such as heart catheterization, cardiac ablation, permanent pacemaker insertion, implantable defibrillator insertions, emergent angioplasty, and electrophysiology.
Medical professionals who study non-invasive cardiology focus on the management or prevention of cardiovascular diseases. These professionals help patients during treatment, diagnosis, testing, and recovery.
There are many sub-specialties in cardiology, such as interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, congenital cardiologists, etc. Deciding on a specific sub-specialty according to your choices and skills required:
- Support from mentors
- Hands-on experience
- Writing papers
- Weighing pros and cons
Ideally, you have so many cardiology options, including vascular medicine, electrophysiology, critical care, heart failure, etc. How will you choose from these options? Let’s find out.
Below we have discussed sub-specialties and five questions that can help you choose from these sub-specialties.
Sub-Specialties in Cardiology You Can Consider
Before we start exploring the best sub-specialty in cardiology for you, here’s a glimpse of various options. Check the details to make a valuable decision about your career.
- Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Cardiothoracic surgeons treat patients who have conditions related to their lungs and hearts. They operate on these patients when there’s a need for surgery.
- General Cardiologist
As a general cardiologist, you will focus on preventing, diagnosing, or managing cardiovascular diseases. This is why general cardiologists are involved in inpatient care for the long-term. They appropriately select medication, treat the patient after surgery and help them with a range of heart-related disorders.
These cardiologists are not trained to read complex diagnoses, such as MRI studies. However, these are equipped to interpret stress tests, electrocardiograms, and Holter monitors.
As the name suggests, echocardiologists mainly work on the interpretation and performance of ultrasound-related procedures of the heart.
- Interventional Cardiologist
As an interventional cardiologist, you may get a chance to perform various procedures, such as balloon angioplasty, removing plaque build-up, etc. They are professional users of laser and cutting devices during medical procedures.
For people who face cardiac arrhythmias, electrophysiologists are the answer. They treat, diagnose, and manage these arrhythmias through invasive procedures. These medical professionals are equipped to implant pacemakers and other devices in the patient.
- Congenital Cardiologist
A congenital cardiologist receives training to support patients with genetic heart disorders. They practice delivering non-invasive medical treatments to patients. However, they may still perform invasive or interventional therapies.
- Transplant and Heart Failure Cardiologist
Transplant and heart failure cardiologists receive training to treat patients who have refractory heart failure or related issues.
- Preventive Cardiologist
A preventive cardiologist is a general cardiologist who has an interest in preventing cardiovascular diseases in patients. From all of the above sub-specialties, preventive cardiologists have the most profound understanding of emerging risk factors and early signs of a cardiovascular disorder.
5 Key Questions to Help You Discover Your Sub-Specialty
For many professionals, choosing a sub-specialty is an obvious choice because they have been aware of their passion since the start. However, for many others, it is not that simple. Here are the key five questions that you need to answer for those who are yet to discover their sub-specialty in cardiology. These questions will help you find specialty during the first year of your fellowship.
Do You Like Procedures?
During the first year of your fellowship, you will rotate through electrophysiology, cath lab, TEEs, and intensive care units. However, during these rotations, it is likely that you may not get a chance to test your procedural knowledge. For this, you need to step out of your comfort zone and scrub in cases. As a cardiology fellow, you need to ask as many questions as possible, and above all, participate in procedures whenever it is safe to do so.
After this, you will receive positive or negative feedback, which will help you analyze your procedural skills. This feedback will tell you a lot about your sub-specialty.
Do You Have Mentors?
Whether you are shifting to a new city for your cardiology fellowship or joining a new hospital, you need mentors. For this, you need to spend time looking for the most significant sources and find the right mentor.
For instance, if you are enjoying your cath lab time, reach out to the department’s leaders and communicate. They will see your passion for it and assist you.
This is to say that if you are entirely sure about your sub-specialty, then the easiest way to find mentors is to reach out to the department’s leadership. From there on, these people will support, assist, and teach you.
How Does Your Personal Support System Look Like?
Outside the hospital and your cardiology fellowship, everyone has a life, which you can’t ignore. The reason we are discussing this is that your personal choices impact your career choices.
For example, if you have two or three children by the first year of your fellowship, you already have added responsibility. Can you afford to stay on-call on the weekend too?
Pondering upon these questions will answer many of your queries. Of course, you may not find your sub-specialty almost immediately. However, you will understand whether you can afford two extra years of study or an aggressive work schedule. If you can’t, you can choose a light sub-specialty, comparatively more comfortable than other choices.
Do You have Academic Career Preferences?
While many can know if they are meant for the academic career or not, the reality finally awakens a few people during the last year of fellowship. At this time, your mentors can help you. As these people are keen on assessing your skills, they may easily catch your interest in academia.
You need to figure out whether you want to be in academia or not relatively early in your career, preferably in the first year of fellowship. If you find this out in the final year, things might not change all that much. But, we still have fewer positions in academic cardiology. Preparing for the same from the first year of fellowship will give you an edge. You can connect with the right mentors and move in the right direction.
What Are Your Exam Deadlines?
As a cardiology fellow, you need to keep track of your applications.
For example, you need to fill the application in the second year for interventional cardiology, around December. For electrophysiology, this is in the third year, around July.
So, to fill these applications on time or take boards in nuclear cardiology, echocardiography, or vascular medicine, connect with your mentor. Ask them whether a specific sub-specialty requires all this or not.
Completing Cardiology Course
What is a cardiology course?
If you plan to pursue non-invasive cardiology as your sub-specialty, it may be best to complete a cardiology course. Texila American University offers a 2 years fellowship course in Non–Invasive Cardiology in collaboration with the University of Central Nicaragua. During this cardiology fellowship in India, you would learn the following:
- x-ray chest
- Holter recording
- TMT interpretation
- Ambulatory BP monitoring
- Echocardiogram interpretation
- Performance stress echo
This is a hospital-based cardiology fellowship in India, which you can pursue after your MBBS course.
Cardiology Course Duration and Eligibility
- 2-year program
- Eligible if completed MBBS and registered with the medical council
In conclusion, you have the opportunity to start working early on your sub-specialty if you find it in the first year of your college. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to rush to make this decision. Eventually, you will find the right sub-specialty and move in the right direction if you make this decision with proper knowledge. Hence, explore the above options, decide, and then take a course for cardiology if you choose a non-invasive field.
For a non-invasive cardiology fellowship program, TAU is the best online university. Register now and get ready for hands-on experience and hospital-based learning.