A heart surgeon, also called a cardiologist, is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ailments of the heart and blood vessels through invasive and noninvasive operations. Starting salaries can range from $150,000 to $250,000 for cardiologists.

Salaries will increase with years of experience, and the average heart surgeon makes around $300,000 to $500,000 a year. Those in high-paying areas or with very many years of experience can make well over $500,000 annually.

Salaries will vary depending on factors such as geographic location, the type of practice joined, the degree of specialty practiced and the years of experience. Densely populated areas or practices and specialties that involve a higher degree of expertise will garner higher salaries.

While heart surgeons make a respectively large salary, they also have high expenses and serious occupational stress. Cardiologists have the immense responsibility of completing a host of intricate surgeries to save lives. Surgeons work at hospitals, colleges and universities or as a part of a medical group to treat patients with heart issues.

How much Education is Required to become a Heart Surgeon?

Surgeons start out attending a standard, accredited four-year college or university. Common bachelor’s majors for pre-med students could include biology or chemistry and many four-year schools also have special degree tracks for students on the medical track.

Graduates then have to be accepted into a medical school. Entrance exams are just part of the rigorous and competitive nature of applying to a medical school. Students spend an additional four years studying medicine at medical school. Upon graduating, the accolade title of doctor can be used.

After graduating from medical school, doctors must complete a residency in a chosen field of medicine. It is at this point that a doctor would have to commit to specializing in heart surgery. The doctor’s residency would start as an intern in the cardiothoracic department or heart center of a hospital; many cardiologists also study thoracic surgery, or surgery of the lungs.

Residencies generally last from one to three years, but cardiac residencies could include more in-depth study due to the delicate nature of the surgery. Heart surgeons must lastly be licensed by a state’s medical board to practice medicine as part of a hospital or medical group.

What Procedures Would a Heart Surgeon Perform?

Heart surgeons must have a steady hand to perform all of the delicate operations associated with the heart and surrounding veins. Few heart procedures are easy. Common heart procedures that are performed by a cardiologist include:

Bypass surgery – This surgical procedure is usually an emergency medical operation that must be performed due to blockage of coronary arteries by cholesterol or plaque. The blocked artery is bypassed with a grafted vein or artery from elsewhere in the body.

Installing a pacemaker – Heart surgeons are given the task of correcting irregular rhythms of the heart; the current technology includes installing a pacemaker that regulates the heart’s beats through electrical impulses.

Correcting a congenital heart defect – Some people are born with abnormal structures of the heart. When these abnormalities restrict blood flow or otherwise compromise the heart of a patient, a heart surgeon will perform surgery to attempt to correct the problem.

Treating valvular heart disease – The four valves of the heart control the direction that blood travels through the heart. Sometimes these valves must be fixed or even replaced by heart surgeons.

Heart transplant – Heart transplants are performed by cardiologist for patients whose hearts are severely damaged by disease or injury.

Thoracic surgery – Many heart surgeons also perform surgery on the lungs or upper chest area.

How much does becoming a Heart Surgeon cost?

The average graduate from medical school carries just under $160,000 in student loan debt before even starting a job. Then, most states require all doctors to carry medical malpractice insurance. This form of liability insurance will help to protect a doctor during and after a malpractice lawsuit. Yearly premiums for malpractice insurance may range from $10,000 to $200,000.

Liability insurance premiums for heart surgeons will be higher due to the delicate nature of the procedures. Heart surgery is one of the more intricate surgeries that are routinely performed.

What are the benefits of being a heart surgeon?

These high salaries come with a lot of stress and responsibility including long hours, middle-of-the-night calls and more. However, the rewards are also very great. Most heart complications that require surgery are fatal if not corrected leading you to saving lives every day.