What does a Pediatric Cardiologist do?
What are the career opportunities?
What Board, if any, certifies a Pediatric Cardiologist?
What is the lifestyle of a Pediatric Cardiologist?
What is the compensation of a Pediatric Cardiologist?
How do I become a Pediatric Cardiologist?
Where do I find out about available programs?
When do I apply?
Why should I choose to become a Pediatric Cardiologist?
Pediatric Cardiologists care for patients with congenital or acquired cardiac and cardiovascular abnormalities. The scope of pediatric cardiology practice is extensive. Pediatric Cardiologists evaluate and care for fetuses, neonates, infants, children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. Special areas of clinical and academic interest include: Intensive Cardiac Care, Cardiac Catheterization and Intervention, Electrophysiology, Imaging (including echo, MRI and CT), Fetal Cardiology, Exercise Physiology, Preventive Cardiology, Heart Failure and Transplantation, Pulmonary Hypertension, Adult Congenital Heart Disease, and Basic Science. Cardiology is practiced in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Additionally, Pediatric Cardiologists can have a career that focuses on translational or basic science research, or in medical education. The scope of conditions cared for by Pediatric Cardiologists is broad and includes congenital heart defects, heart muscle disorders, rhythm disturbances, hypertension, and other systemic or genetic disorders affecting the cardiovascular system. A significant majority of activities in Pediatric Cardiology require expertise in procedural and/or interpretive activities.
The opportunities in Pediatric Cardiology are many and varied. Pediatric Cardiology is often the cornerstone of large academic medical centers and there are many divisions of high volume and high intensity. There are also many small-to-medium sized programs with most divisions of Pediatric Cardiology averaging 2-5 cardiologists per 1 million population served. Private practice opportunities of various sizes and clinical service exist throughout the country. Career opportunities range from 1) predominantly clinical activities 2) a career in an academic setting as a clinician educator or researcher on a tenure track or some combination of the two, 3) hospital-based settings with academic collaborations with a larger tertiary care center, to 4) a private practice setting usually with referrals to a large center for surgery or cath interventions. To successfully enter a specialized clinical area of cardiology (such as interventional cath or EP and others) a fourth year of additional training is often needed.
Board certification for Pediatric Cardiologists is through the American Board of Pediatrics, Sub-board of Pediatric Cardiology. To sit for this exam, applicants must have achieved certification in General Pediatrics.
A wide variety of lifestyle opportunities are available to the physician specializing in pediatric cardiology. Some areas of cardiovascular specialization are only infrequently called upon to deal with emergent situations; hence, those physicians are infrequently called upon at odd hours. At the other extreme are those subspecialty areas in cardiology which necessitate in-house call or frequent nighttime or after-hours life-saving activities, many of which necessitate special technical expertise. Also impacting the lifestyle achievable in pediatric cardiology is the program size. As many Pediatric Cardiology programs are very large in physician and fellow numbers, call night frequency is low. Although basic science pursuits in pediatric cardiology may avoid emergency, on-call, or clinical issues, the lifestyle of a “bench” researcher can be one of long and odd hours in the laboratory.
Pediatric Cardiologists, in general, are well-compensated. The basis for this is multi-factorial, but predominantly related to large clinical volumes and the significant number of procedurally-oriented activities which are historically well reimbursed.
Pediatric Cardiologists undertake three, and often more, years of post-pediatric subspecialty training. Medicine-Pediatric graduates are also accepted into Pediatric Cardiology fellowship programs. Pediatric Cardiology fellowship programs exist across the country and over 150 fellowship positions are available each year. Application to pediatric cardiology programs is through ERAS and pediatric cardiology participates in the NRMP pediatric subspecialties Fall match.
Information can be obtained on pediatric cardiology training programs through the individual institutions’ websites, as well as the spctpd.org (please make this a hyperlink), ACGME, Freida and ERAS websites.
Pediatric Cardiology programs have used ERAS since 2011 and the field changed to the Fall match starting in 2018. ERAS applications are available early July with rank lists due in November. Match results are released in early December. The interview cycle varies from program-to-program but has typically occurs from late August through mid-November of the year preceding the intended fellowship start date. Information about the match can be found at the NRMP website. For match statistics, click here.
Pediatric Cardiology is the most clinically diverse subspecialty of pediatrics. From the infant to the young adult, from the critically ill to the competitive athlete, from the bench to the bedside, Pediatric Cardiology provides the opportunity for you to craft the practice of medicine that will be both satisfying and rewarding.
For more information about Pediatric Cardiology, visit these websites:
American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery
Children’s National Hospital
Proposed Electives for a Resident Entering Cardiology
Below is a list of suggested (not mandatory) rotations that a resident could consider if they are planning to apply in this particular subspecialty. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive curriculum, but rather a list to create a program that fits a resident’s individual needs.
- PICU (not CICU) – critical skills
- Anesthesia – intubating and lines
- Pulmonary Medicine – coexisting lung disease/PHTN
- Pathology – cardiac if possible
- GI – particularly liver function and bowel motility
- Neurodevelopment – outcomes
- Nephrology – for associated renal dysfunction/medication/HTN
Pediatric Subspecialties: the need is huge, the careers are stimulating, and the rewards are amazing.
To access a recording of the 1 hour CoPS Pediatric Subspecialties Webinar Series on 5/17/21 featuring a panel discussion about careers in Pediatric Cardiology and then in Child Abuse Pediatrics, please use this link.