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Cardiac surgeons perform medical procedures on patients with heart problems. These procedures include balloon angioplasty, open heart surgery, bypass surgery and heart transplants. These surgeons also monitor their patients before and after procedures to prevent complications. Cardiac surgeons use math on a daily basis, so anyone pursuing this specialty should have strong math skills.
Cardiac surgeons use several types of math in professional practice. When determining the amount of medication a patient needs, the surgeon uses basic math to determine drug dosage based on body weight. Heart surgeons who perform medical research use statistics extensively to record their research data. Some cardiac tests ordered by heart surgeons require the use of math to interpret the results. During an echocardiogram, for example, an ultrasound technologist uses a transducer to produce images of the heart. These images show abnormalities such as an enlarged heart or heart defects. The cardiac surgeon uses math to measure the size of any tears, perforations or defects in the heart muscle. Cardiac surgeons who run a private practice also use business math on a regular basis.
The use of mathematics helps cardiac surgeons develop treatment plans for their patients, reduce the risk of medical errors and communicate research information to their peers in the medical community.
Good math skills play an important role in the success of a cardiac surgeon and the safety of her patients. If a surgeon does not have the math skills needed to calculate safe medication dosages or interpret test results, the risk of a medication overdose or incorrect medical treatment increases. If the surgeon does not have good business math skills, he will have difficulty running a successful practice. Good math skills allow a surgeon with a private practice to determine his gross income, expenses, tax obligations and net income.
Some medical schools require prospective students to complete at least two semesters of college-level math, while others only require one semester of math study. The University of Alabama requires two semesters of college math, with calculus and computer science recommended specifically for medical students, according to the Center for Science Education at Emory University. Medical schools that only require one semester of math include University of North Dakota, Brown University, Texas Tech and Medical College of Wisconsin.
Some people believe that cardiac surgeons rely on business managers, nurses and other professionals to perform the calculations required for successful practice. Although cardiac surgeons have several resources available to them, they carry the responsibility of ordering medication dosages and interpreting test results. Cardiac surgeons with private practices often hire business or office managers, but they still need math skills to determine the success of their businesses.
Leigh Ann Morgan began working as a writer in 2004. She has extensive experience in the business field having served as the manager of a $34 million rental property portfolio. Morgan also appeared as a guest on an episode of National Public Radio's "Marketplace Money" in 2005.