The way the American College of Cardiology puts it, cardiologists are doctors with special training and skill in finding, treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists undergo four years of medical school, three years of general internal medicine training and, finally, four years of cardiology training. To become a cardiologist requires a level of commitment and study few people can demonstrate. Personal characteristics demanded of cardiologists include being detail-oriented to an extremely high degree.
The Cardiology Field
Cardiology is a specialty for physicians and surgeons. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the median salary for a physician or surgeon is $166,400 annually. However, the "TheHeart.org" website notes that in 2011 U.S. cardiologists earned an average of $314,000, with cardiologists in single-specialty group practices earning $388,000. Entry into the cardiology field, though, is highly selective, highly competitive and takes an ability to absorb a massive amount of extremely technical data and information.
Cardiologist Personal Characteristics
No physician will succeed in an internal medicine residency and then a cardiology fellowship without being extremely detail-oriented. For example, physicians in training to become cardiologists must absorb information from thousands of pages of graduate medical texts. Over the course of seven years of combined internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship training, physicians also spend much time in research. Without an ability to read, understand, organize and prioritize information and clinical data, a cardiologist will eventually fail.
Humanism and Ethics
Cardiologists are entrusted with the lives of their patients and must possess a high degree of professionalism, humanism and ethics. Cardiologists who don't stay abreast of the latest advances in cardiology can bring harm to their patients. A cardiologist who can't look at a patient in a humane and caring manner is treating him or her with a lack of decency. A lack of ethics or an inability to always do the right thing can be a fatal flaw in any physician.
Resolve and Success
Cardiologists are people who have succeeded at several points in their lives and they've demonstrated a high degree of resolve in doing so. It's relatively difficult to attain admission to a medical college, for one. To become a cardiologist, a physician must first compete for one of a limited number of internal medicine residency program openings. Outstanding performance in an internal medicine residency program is a minimum for acceptance into a cardiology fellowship, and competition for available seats is stiff.