When choosing a cardiologist, looking into your provider’s background is worth the time and effort. Most hospitals provide online directories of their physicians, complete with their listed credentials. But in many cases, it’s up to you to understand just what all these credentials really mean.
Cardiologists will often specialize within the medical specialty of cardiologists. These “sub-specialists” focus their practice on the care of particular issues affecting the heart. Cardiology sub-specialties include:
- Advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology: These doctors specialize in the evaluation and treatment of patients with heart failure.
- Cardiac electrophysiology: These sub-specialists diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders.
- Echocardiography: These sub-specialists use ultrasound to study the function of the heart.
- Interventional cardiology: These sub-specialists use catheters to treat structural and ischemic (restricted blood supply) diseases of the heart.
- Nuclear cardiology: These cardiologists use trace amounts of radioactive dye to evaluate blood flow within the heart.
Abbreviated Cardiology Credentials
Many cardiologists will have additional credentials listed after the “MD” in their name. This bundle of letters can be confusing to anyone without a background in cardiology. Some of the most common cardiology credentials are abbreviated as follows:
- FACC: Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. This is a designation given to physicians who have been elected to the fellowship based on outstanding credentials, achievements and contributions to cardiovascular medicine.
- ABIM: American Board of Internal Medicine. This is a non-profit foundation established in 1999 that independently evaluates physicians’ expertise in the field of internal medicine and its 20 subspecialties. Physicians are held to a high, uniform standard that includes clinical judgment, skills and attitudes essential for excellent patient care.
- RN-BC: Registered Nurse – Board Certified. Indicates that the nurse has successfully passed the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center’s board certification examination for Cardiac-Vascular Nursing. The credential is valid for five years.
- ACNP-BC: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified. Offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, this certification is for the adult acute care population and denotes that a nurse has completed eligibility requirements for the certification exam and has successfully passed the examination.
- AACC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry. This is a global, non-profit association of clinical laboratory professionals and research scientists. Members are involved in ongoing research, collaboration and management practices to promote improved patient outcomes and greater understanding of laboratory medicine.