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Career Profile of a Heart Surgeon

Job Descriptions December 7, 2012

Heart surgeons focus their surgical procedure on the blood vessels and heart that are part of the chest cavity. An aspiring heart surgeon will need to undergo extensive training and education that include a bachelor degree, followed by medical school along with enrollment into an internship and residency program.

Job Profile of a Heart Surgeon

Heart Surgeon who received relevant training are skilled at performing surgery on the blood vessels, esophagus, lungs and heart, among other organs located in the thoracic cavity. Patients undergo tests by heart surgeons who determine whether they need treatment for any conditions within their blood vessels or heart. Apart from effecting complex surgical procedures, these professionals are expected to follow up meticulously with patients and render them with assistance in managing their overall health.

Education Prerequisites of a Heart Surgeon

Earning a bachelor degree and completing medical school are the minimum requirements for a student who aspires to become a heart surgeon. While students do not need to obtain a bachelor degree in any particular major, they need to take courses in mathematics, physics, biology, organic chemistry, and chemistry. To enroll into a medical school; students need to register and achieve a strong score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

The potential heart surgeon will need to undergo a four-year stint at a medical school. Licensure requirements to practice medicine in the United States require heart surgeons take an exam conducted by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Once graduated, students will now enroll into a five-year residency program in general surgery.

During residency training, the potential surgeons learn different types of surgery. An internship of two to three years involving cardiothoracic surgery must follow post-residency. During the internship, potential surgeons are able to concentrate on the specialty of their choice while becoming adept in the theory and practice of thoracic surgery. After the completion of the internship, they can obtain board certification by taking the American Board of Thoracic Surgery examination. A voluntary fellowship program that can enhance their cardiac surgery skills will be offered.

Wage and Employment Potential

Heart surgeons may own their own practice or work in medical facilities such as hospitals. As of 2009, cardiothoracic surgeons took home an average annual salary of $440,932. While those in the top quarter of the earnings list had an average annual salary of $576,936, those who featured in the bottom quarter took home $319,452 (source:

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