Cardiologists diagnose and treat diseases of the heart. They use medical
instruments to examine patients for symptoms of heart disorders.
They study images and recordings of the heart to help make a diagnosis.
They prescribe medications as well as dietary and activity programs.
Sometimes they must refer patients to cardiologists with specialties in
surgery or a particular heart disease. Some cardiologists conduct research
on the heart and its diseases, rather than work with patients on a day-to-day
Cardiologists spend a lot of time in school. Still, they need more social
skills than the average bookworm.
"People skills -- being able to deal with families -- are very important,"
says Dr. George Moran. He is chief of cardiology at a hospital in Baltimore.
"We spend most of our lives dealing with people. There is more to medicine
than being able to recite science. Human contact takes preparation. So you
need a well-rounded education and some insight into human behavior and family
Physicians work long, irregular hours. Doctors who are on call may make
emergency room visits. They also must travel between their office and the
hospital to care for patients.
Cardiologist Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai puts in 60 to 70 hours a week with
patients. That's on top of another 30 or so devoted to administrative, managerial
and educational matters.