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Cardiologist Vs. Electrophysiologist

Cardiologists and electrophysiologists are both highly trained medical professionals. This article explores the similarities in their duties and also distinguishes between their roles. Read on to learn more about what these professionals do.

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Comparing Cardiologists to Electrophysiologists

Electrophysiologists are advanced cardiologists with more training and the qualifications needed to perform different types of medical procedures. They earn notably higher salaries due to their additional training and expertise.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Cardiologists Medical degree, residency, license, fellowship $244,208 15% (internists, general)
Electrophysiologists Medical degree, residency, license, fellowship $293,466 15% (internists, general)

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

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Responsibilities of Cardiologists vs. Electrophysiologists

The primary duties that cardiologists and electrophysiologists perform are very similar because they work in the same field and treat the same parts of the human body. They both see patients that are referred to them by other doctors. They both perform patient exams. Non-invasive cardiologists are more likely to perform medical tests themselves. The specific heart conditions that cardiologists and electrophysiologists focus on may differ, which is why they perform different types of procedures. A cardiologist may refer a patient to an electrophysiologist if their patient has an irregular heartbeat.

Cardiologists

Cardiologists specialize in heart and cardiovascular issues. Cardiologists can opt to be non-invasive cardiologists, invasive non-interventional cardiologists, interventional cardiologists or electrophysiologists. Additional training is required to qualify as an interventional cardiologist or electrophysiologist. Each type of cardiologist is qualified to perform different tasks. Invasive non-interventional cardiologists divide their time between working in an office and a lab while non-interventional cardiologists primarily work in offices and interventional cardiologists mainly work in hospitals. Work hours may vary based on where the cardiologist works, since those who work in hospitals may be required to work long hours at any time of the day or night.

Job responsibilities of a cardiologist include:

  • Seeing patients
  • Performing stress tests
  • Educating patients on diet and exercise
  • Giving patients prescriptions for medication
  • Performing diagnostic procedures
  • Treating blocked arteries

Electrophysiologists

Electrophysiologists specialize in dealing with heart rhythm issues, such as heart arrhythmia. Electrophysiologists divide their time between working in an office and working in an operating room. They need to have strong analytical skills so that they can process all relevant information about a patient's condition. They also need to have excellent fine motor skills.

Job responsibilities of an electrophysiologist include:

  • Implanting pacemakers
  • Performing patient examinations
  • Presenting treatment options
  • Writing prescriptions for medication
  • Inserting catheters in the heart
  • Monitoring patients with heart defects

Related Careers

Aspiring cardiologists may also be interested in other internal medicine specialties, such as oncology. Another option for those considering electrophysiology is becoming a heart surgeon so that they can operate on the heart.

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