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How Do I Become a Cardiac Physiologist?

To become a Cardiac Physiologist, you'll need a degree in healthcare science or clinical physiology, specializing in cardiology. This is followed by hands-on training in a clinical setting. Volunteering or shadowing professionals in the field can also provide valuable experience and insight.
T. Carrier
T. Carrier

A cardiac physiologist, or cardiac technician, attends to matters of the heart, literally. This profession should be a strong consideration for those individuals who wish to study the heart and diagnose heart disease. Passion as well as a solid aptitude for science and anatomical disciplines provide a basic foundation for those striving to become cardiac physiologists. Educational requirements range from two years to four years of advanced studies. Following official certification, individuals may work in hospitals or private facilities.

The heart is a complex organ with many responsibilities, and cardiac physiologists help ensure it meets these responsibilities. A cardiac physiologist may conduct cardiac research into areas such as heart rate, cardiac output, and electrical conduction. They also help diagnose cardiac diseases with stress tests and other techniques, assist in treatments for conditions ranging from heart attacks to heart murmurs, and provide monitoring services in various surgeries. Prospective cardiac physiologists should be familiar with all of these practices.

A cardiac physiologist needs excellent communications skills when dealing with patients and caregivers.
A cardiac physiologist needs excellent communications skills when dealing with patients and caregivers.

The responsibilities of a cardiac physiologist may be diverse, so a comprehensive skill set should be developed. One skill nearly all cardiac physiologists will need is interpersonal skills, as patient interactions are commonplace. In turn, these patients will possess a high degree of stress during testing, so a calming presence is essential for individuals seeking to become a cardiac physiologist. In addition, procedures like heart monitoring or pacemaker installment may be part of the job description, so familiarity with associated equipment and terminology should be a further priority.

Cardiac physiologists often see patients who are recovering from open heart surgery.
Cardiac physiologists often see patients who are recovering from open heart surgery.

In order to become a cardiac physiologist, a prospect will need to meet higher education requirements as well. Specialized training programs are offered at many undergraduate institutions, and individuals should complete at least a two-year associate’s degree, with a four-year degree being ideal. Solid grades in a science-focused major like physiology will likely set one on the route to become a cardiac physiologist. In some regions, individuals obtain most of their experience by fulfilling a training post that offers on-the-job learning and actual clinical rotations. Whatever the particular path, official registration and certification is usually required in most regions from accredited organizations such as Cardiovascular Credentialing International.

Telemetry devices may be used to record cardiac movements of a patient.
Telemetry devices may be used to record cardiac movements of a patient.

Once an individual has become a cardiac physiologist, most employment opportunities will be found within the cardiology departments of hospitals. Physiologists will work closely with cardiologists to determine the best course of patient care. Cardiologists with private practices may also need the services of cardiac physiologists. Others may opt to work in outpatient centers or critical care units as independent contractors.

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    • A cardiac physiologist needs excellent communications skills when dealing with patients and caregivers.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      A cardiac physiologist needs excellent communications skills when dealing with patients and caregivers.
    • Cardiac physiologists often see patients who are recovering from open heart surgery.
      By: sudok1
      Cardiac physiologists often see patients who are recovering from open heart surgery.
    • Telemetry devices may be used to record cardiac movements of a patient.
      By: Susan Stevenson
      Telemetry devices may be used to record cardiac movements of a patient.
    • A cardiac physiologist may assist in treatments for heart murmurs.
      By: aykuterd
      A cardiac physiologist may assist in treatments for heart murmurs.