AFTER ALL HEART MATTERS
How would you like to stop a person's diseased heart, cut it open, repair its malfunctioned valves, put it back in and start it again. Sounds almost like a car mechanic's job doesn't it? But that's a human's life that you are playing with! Skipped a heartbeat? Well that's the job of a cardiologist. Find out more…
You will first diagnose exactly what is wrong with your patient. This calls for a series of tests. You will interpret these tests and based on the patient's medical history recommend the best possible treatment plan.
You will need to perform regular check ups with your patients and alter the medication if necessary. Some of the heart ailments that you will treat are:
High/low blood pressure : One of the most common among the heart diseases is high blood pressure and low blood pressure. Anything going wrong with the mechanism of pumping blood results in these abnormalities of blood pressure.
Angina : Angina is caused due to disease in the coronary artery and results in severe chest pain similar to a heart attack. This is usually treated with medication but sometimes surgery may be called for.
Cardiac Arrest : Commonly called heart attack this occurs when one or more of the blood vessels to the heart is obstructed. In these situations you will have to perform emergency procedures to save the patient's life and stabilize his or her condition.
Once the emergency is over, the exact damage to the coronary arteries and muscles need to be found out. You will perform an angiography, where a thin filament is passed through the arteries supplying blood to the heart to determine the blockage points.
You will then decide the future course of action. It could be just rest and medication or complicated procedures like Angioplasty or by pass surgery.
Most people think that cardiologists only treat heart attack patients. That is hardly the case. You will have to treat patients with irregular heartbeats or those who have problems with their heart valves and arteries. Children born with holes in the heart or suffering from heart enlargement will also come under your care. You will perform heart transplant procedures too.
Unhealthy food habits, stressful lifestyle, drug addiction, socio-economic conditions, etc. are all responsible for the spurt in heart diseases. As a cardiologist, your job will also involve educating people about the various heart ailments and how one can minimize the risk of getting them.
You need to have:
- Good analytical, logical and reasoning skills
- Ability to memorise and recall scientific facts
- A keen desire to serve and help people
- A patient and understanding nature
- The ability to generate confidence in others
To begin with you will have to clear your 10+2 exam with physics, chemistry and biology. Not only will you have to score really well in this exam, you will also have to appear for the highly competitive entrance exam. Once you secure your admission, you will enter the five and a half year MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery), course. This includes the one-year internship period as well.
One must realize that a cardiologist does not perform major surgery like by pass or open-heart surgery. This is handled by Cardiovascular & thoracic surgeons. So you have two academic options:
You can do a MD in General Medicine after your MBBS. After your MD, you should do a DM in Cardiology, which is a super specialization. You can practice cardiology after your MD, but to have a really successful career, you must do the DM.
Alternatively you can first do a MS in General Surgery after your MBBS and then M.Ch in Cardio-thoracic surgery or Cardiovascular & thoracic surgery.
A Fellowship of Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) or American College of Cardiology makes your future even brighter.
You can work in the Cardiology department/Cardiovascular & thoracic surgery departments of general hospitals and specialty hospitals run by the government or private organisations. You can also work in Cardiac care units of nursing homes and polyclinics, specialty nursing homes and polyclinics for cardiac diseases. Teaching in medical colleges in India and abroad also remains another option that you can pursue.
Pharmaceutical companies will also offer you positions in their research and development setups as well as their sales support functions.
Money & Other Benefits
In government hospitals and healthcare establishments, you can expect to earn about Rs 10,000 a month in the beginning. As a tutor in medical colleges, you will get the same range of salaries per month. However, in corporate or private hospitals or other healthcare centres, your starting salary will be in the range of Rs 10,000 - 15,000 or more per month. Senior cardiologists and surgeons earn more than Rs 30,000 a month.
After that it is your reputation and your experience that matters. You could work for pharmaceutical companies as well as government and private research and development labs. Your salary here would be in the range of Rs 20,000-40,000. You could even go on to make as much as lakh a month.
If you a cardiac surgeon, then your earning will have the potential to reach the stars and beyond. For example, a reputed cardiac surgeon can earn about 1.5 lakh a day!
Along with the money is the fame. You will be renowned the world over for your expertise in your field. Starting off your own private clinic also brings in lots of money.
So far the high costs of medical care has meant that the majority of patients suffering from cardiac disorders have not been able to afford the kind of super specialty treatment that is required. However, all that is set to change.
In India, it is estimated that, by 2005, the turnover of the healthcare industry will be more than Rs 105,000 crore, making it one of the largest industry sectors. The government has opened up the health insurance sector. Currently only 0.2 per cent of India's population is covered under medical insurance as against 75 per cent of USA. So, as more and more people will be able to bear the cost of specialised Medicare, the more will be the demand for better healthcare facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, treatment and specialist doctors.
Without doubt the healthcare industry in India is on the up folks! That is good news for wanna be cardiologists.