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Cardiologists are heart specialists, who are medical doctors trained to treat abnormalities and diseases of the heart and cardiovascular system. They use a stethoscope to listen to the patient’s heart and an electrocardiograph to make recordings of the activity. They study X-rays to determine the existence or extent of a heart disorder.

Cardiologists may prescribe medication and recommend special diets and exercise to a patient. They also perform corrective surgery where necessary. If a patient needs a pacemaker, for example, a cardiologist would be the one to implant it. Cardiologists sometimes work in conjunction with anaesthetists. Heart surgery includes coronary bypass surgery (where a graft is made from a section of a vein or artery removed elsewhere in the body and used to carry blood around portions of narrowed vessels). Coronary bypass surgery is the most common procedure of this type. Other surgical procedures such as angioplasty and endarterectomy (surgically removing fatty deposits from closed or inflamed blood vessels), are often performed by cardiologists. In extreme cases, hearts may be transplanted from a suitable donor.

Satisfying Aspects
- being able to assist patients by prolonging their life and relieving pain and suffering
- saving lives
- working as part of the medical profession in a very specialised field

Demanding aspects
- losing a patient under your care
- working extremely hard
- being on call 24 hours
- working weekends and holidays
- working under extreme pressure, requiring    intense concentration
- dealing with bereaved families

- able to perform well under pressure
- perform well as part of a team
- a perfectionist, accurate and meticulous
- have concern for others
- emotionally balanced, patient and calm
- tactful, able to put patients at ease
- able to make quick, sound decisions in an emergency
- responsible and ethical

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent grades who naturally would be given preference.

MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN:
- Theoretical training: 6 years
- Student internship: 1 year
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Post-graduate study for specialization as a cardiologist: 4 years - e.g.UCT, UFS, Wits, UP.

Additional Requirements: before commencing post-graduate study for specialisation as a cardiologist, the candidate must:

- be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years
- be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year.

Registration: on successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a cardiologist.

- medical schools
- general hospitals
- clinics
- private hospitals

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300
Fax: (012) 328-5120