If you suffer from health problems related to your heart or cardiovascular system (veins and arteries), you'll need a cardiologist to provide advice and care.
Cardiologists find, treat and help prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels by performing surgery on the heart, blood vessels and sometimes lungs. Pediatric cardiologists have special training in working with infants, children and adolescents who suffer from cardiovascular problems.
A Cardiologist's Training and Credentials
A cardiologist begins his or her training with four years of medical school. There are two types of medical schools: one leads to a Medical Doctor (MD) and the other leads to an Osteopathic Doctor (DO). Both paths require a similar amount of education but focus differently: a MD practices allopathic medicine, considered to be conventional medicine in the United States, and looks at the body as a series of separately functioning systems. A DO learns more about the human musculoskeletal system and approaches the body as a whole system. In actual practice, the medical education received by both MDs and DOs today is quite similar.
The next step is a minimum three years of residency in internal medicine. [link]
Once the residency is completed, the physician must "subspecialize" to become a cardiologist, meaning he or she continues on to a fellowship, usually an additional three or more years in cardiovascular education.
Pediatric cardiologists will train first in pediatrics, learning about the body systems of developing fetuses, infants, children, adolescents and young adulthood. They then go on toward a fellowship in cardiology, lasting another three years or more.
Cardiac surgeons begin with five years of specialized surgical training, then an additional two to three years of cardiothoracic training (heart and lungs). Transplant surgeons will require still more training, even crossing over into pediatric surgery.
Once a physician has completed these aspects of education, she may apply to be a certified member of the American Board of Internal Medicine for a subspecialty in cardiovascular disease or the American College of Osteopathic Internists with a subspecialty in cardiology. Board membership requires frequent recertification, and to accomplish that, the physician must complete annual coursework requirements and take a recertification test.
How to Choose the Right Cardiologist
To find the right fit between you and your cardiologist, you'll want to identify possibilities and research credentials and then assess the doctor's capabilities for partnership.
Make a List of Possibilities
Compare these lists to find names in common with your needs. You will want to spend time learning more about your selections by researching their credentials and capabilities.
Research a Cardiologist's Credentials
Using the list of names you have collected, look for the following information on UCompareHealthCare.com:
Assess a Cardiologist's Capabilities
Once you have vetted your list based on the criteria above, you'll want to ask the following questions to determine which doctors are worth meeting:
If you are satisfied with these answers, you'll need to make an appointment and consider these questions:
Finding the right cardiologist may seem like a long, involved process, however, knowing that this doctor may partner with you for the rest of your lifetime makes it worth your time and effort.
Guide to Patient Empowerment, About.com
Learn more about finding the right Cardiologist for you at About.com.