Education and Training Requirements

High School

Because becoming a physician normally requires four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, and completing three to eight years in an internship or residency program, while in high school take college preparatory courses that include mathematics; science, including biology and chemistry; and English.

Postsecondary Training

Premed students must complete undergraduate studies in physics, biology, mathematics, and organic and inorganic chemistry. Once you receive your M.D. degree and become licensed to practice medicine, you must take seven to eight more years of additional training. This includes an internship that may last from one to two years and a six-year residency program. Cardiologists spend three years in a residency program in internal medicine and another three years in a residency program in the subspecialty of cardiology.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Cardiologists should be board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in both internal medicine and then in the cardiology subspecialty. To be certified in internal medicine, you need to have completed medical school and at least three years of additional training as well as pass a comprehensive exam. Certification in cardiology requires at least three more years of accredited training (in cardiology), proven clinical competence, and passing another comprehensive exam. In 1990, the ABIM began issuing certificates that carried time limitations. This was done to ensure that all certified doctors maintain a high level of competency. For continuing medical education, cardiologists can attend conferences, lectures, or specialized readings.

Cardiologists must also be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensing requirements vary by state.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Cardiologists have years of training and experience in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions related to the heart and the vessels leading to and from it. Once they graduate from medical school, they spend several years in residency, working and training with senior doctors before striking out on their own.

In addition to the skills involved in carrying out the above actions, cardiologists have listening, thinking, and speaking skills that enable them to understand patients' descriptions of their problems. They use logic and reasoning to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions to those problems and use new information and creative solutions in approaching these problems.

The personality traits of the cardiologist include devotion to patients' needs, ability to deal with stress, thoroughness in attention to detail, dependability, honesty, and ethical behavior in all situations. Cardiologists need a nurturing personality. The needs of the patient must always come before their own needs. Cardiologists must be willing to put aside their own concerns while they are responsible for the care of a patient.