Cardiologist Vs. ER Physician

Jan 29, 2018

Cardiologists and ER physicians are medical specialists who are uniquely equipped to handle different types of medical issues. This article compares cardiologists and ER physicians, highlighting some similarities and differences in their roles.

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Comparing Cardiologists to ER Physicians

Cardiologists and ER physicians are both medical doctors. Cardiologists focus on specific medical issues that affect the cardiovascular system and heart. They need more training and earn a higher salary than ER physicians.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)** Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Cardiologists Medical degree, residency, license, fellowship $244,208 17% (internists)
ER Physicians Medical degree, residency, license $211,346 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Responsibilities of Cardiologists vs. ER Physicians

Similar tasks that cardiologists and ER physicians perform include treating patients, determining what medicine they need and sending them to specialists when needed. Both may order some medical tests, although cardiologists routinely perform medical tests on patients. They may both perform some medical procedures although the procedures differ because ER physicians are not qualified to perform procedures such as balloon angioplasty. ER physicians tend to provide short-term treatments for patients they see once or rarely while cardiologists may be involved with treating some of the same patients over a long period of time. Although ER physicians may provide some general medical advice to their patients, cardiologists are more likely to provide ongoing treatment and guidance about managing health through diet and exercise.


When people have heart problems or cardiovascular issues they will be treated by a cardiologist. There are a number of roles for cardiologists and they may complete additional training to become qualified to perform additional tasks. They must have exceptional fine motor skills because of the delicate nature of their work. They also need good communication skills because they spend a lot of time interacting with patients. They often work in medical offices, although some cardiologists also spend part of their time working in hospitals or labs.

Job responsibilities of a cardiologist include:

  • Diagnosing patients
  • Conducting medical tests on patients
  • Locating blockages
  • Unblocking arteries
  • Writing prescriptions

ER Physicians

ER physicians work in hospital emergency rooms. They treat patients who are experiencing medical emergencies. They may be required to work different shifts around the clock and be scheduled to work weekends and holidays. It is possible for ER physicians to complete a fellowship so that they can specialize in a specific area, such as pain management. They need to be able to think quickly and strong problem-solving skills are important because they may treat a wide range of medical issues.

Job responsibilities of an ER physician include:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Determining what medical tests are needed
  • Stitching wounds
  • Examining x-rays and test results
  • Resuscitating patients
  • Referring patients to specialists

Related Careers

Those thinking about a future as a cardiologist may also be interested in other internal medicine specialties, such as oncology. Since ER physicians are used to dealing with high stress situations they may also be interested in a career as a surgeon.

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