What Does It Take to Become a Cardiologist?

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Cardiology is one of the most challenging professions for doctors to gain credentialing in, since a cardiologist’s work involves diagnosing potentially serious heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions. As such, becoming a cardiologist requires significant training and special qualifications.

The First Steps to Becoming a Cardiologist

At the most basic level, an aspiring cardiologist must have an undergraduate college degree followed by a medical school degree. After, they must obtain a license to practice medicine from the state where they intend to practice. This education and licensing is only the start of a cardiologist’s journey.

Extensive Training

Cardiologists are also required to complete an internship as well as a residency program in Internal Medicine. This is followed by certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and then a fellowship in cardiology. All told, this training takes an additional 6 to 7 years after a doctor has finished medical school.

Top Tier Specialization

After completing a fellowship in cardiology, a doctor can then become a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (with the designation “FACC”). Aspiring cardiologists must become board certified for cardiovascular disease (FACC). The rigorous application process includes letters of sponsorship from current FACC members attesting to the doctor’s professional skill and commitment to excellence.

Many cardiologists also go on to subspecialize in interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, transplant surgery or another area of subspecialty. This often involves completing another fellowship program in the subspecialty of choice. After completing a subspecialty fellowship, these cardiologists can go on to become board certified in their subspecialty as well.

Ongoing Qualifications

Adding up all the years of education and training, cardiologists generally spend 15 years or more gaining the required certifications and experience for their profession. In addition to the strenuous and extensive training, cardiologists must retake their Boards every 10 years to ensure that they remain sharp and up-to-date on current research and cardiology techniques.