Cardiologist Vs. Anesthesiologist

Cardiologists and anesthesiologists are healthcare professionals who play different roles in the treatment of patients. This article explores some of the general similarities between these specialties as well as the differences.

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Comparing Cardiologists to Anesthesiologists

Cardiologists and anesthesiologists are both medical doctors. While they both work with patients, they have different areas of specialization, different responsibilities and different salary expectations.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Cardiologists Medical degree, license, residency, fellowship(s) $244,208 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)
Anesthesiologists Medical degree, license, residency $278,924 18%

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Cardiologists vs. Anesthesiologists

Cardiologists treat patients with heart issues while anesthesiologists treat any patient experiencing pain or undergoing surgery. Cardiologists typically perform tests and procedures that are related to a patient's heart condition. Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to patients to sedate them for surgery or to reduce the level of pain they're experiencing. Cardiologists and anesthesiologists can both prescribe medication to patients. One of the distinctions between these professions is that it's common for cardiologists to provide long-term care to patients with heart conditions. Anesthesiologists, however, only treat a patient during a single surgical procedure or for a limited time when they are receiving treatment in a hospital.

Cardiologists

Cardiologists are medical specialists who focus on treating patients with heart problems. They may work in medical offices, clinics or hospitals, and some cardiologists also spend time working in labs when performing medical tests. Their work hours may vary based on where they work; those that work in hospitals may work at any time of the day or night while those who work in a medical office may typically work daytime hours. Since they interact regularly with patients, they need to have strong communication skills and compassion.

There are several different types of cardiologists, and specific duties vary depending on whether a person is a non-invasive cardiologist, an invasive non-interventional cardiologist or an interventional cardiologist. Non-invasive cardiologists do not perform invasive procedures and instead focus on identifying and preventing issues. Invasive non-interventional cardiologists perform minor surgical procedures, such as inserting stents to open clogged veins. Finally, the interventional cardiologist makes use of catheters to probe for and treat certain diseases, such as coronary artery disease.

Job responsibilities of a cardiologist include:

  • Assessing patient referrals from other doctors
  • Examining patients after they've had a heart attack
  • Conducting stress tests
  • Performing medical procedures such as cardiac catheterizations
  • Treating patients whose arteries are blocked
  • Relaying information to a patient's primary doctor

Anesthesiologists

Anesthesiologists primarily work in hospitals or clinics where surgeries are performed. They dose and administer anesthesia to patients, which makes contemporary surgical operations possible. They may comfort the surgical patient and analyze the risk of anesthesia given certain medical conditions. They assist with pregnancies and emergency operations in addition to scheduled surgeries. For major operations, they put patients into unconscious states.

Anesthesiologists who want to specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as pediatric anesthesiology, can complete a fellowship after they finish their residency. They need to have strong attention to detail to correctly dose anesthesia and monitor patients for side effects. They also need good interpersonal skills because their job involves consulting with other physicians and interacting with patients.

Job responsibilities of an anesthesiologist include:

  • Sedating patients before surgery
  • Monitoring patient vitals during surgery
  • Treating patients with chronic pain
  • Taking patient histories
  • Treating patients for complications from anesthesia
  • Researching new treatments

Related Careers

If being a cardiologist sounds intriguing, you may also want to consider becoming a cardiac surgeon and operating surgically on patients with heart defects and heart-related issues. If a career as an anesthesiologist sounds more interesting, you may also be interested in a career as a clinical pharmacist since these professionals also work with patients to provide pain relief via medications that they dose and monitor.

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