Cardiac surgeons work in the medical field and provide one of the most necessary functions in saving and prolonging lives. Their focus is on the heart and the nearby and attached blood vessels. There can be many different types of complications with the heart and its related vessels, so cardiac surgeons must be specialized professionals in dealing with all problems with the heart and those vessels. They must be extremely intelligent and very dexterous with their hands.
Cardiac surgeons work in the cardiac and emergency departments of hospitals. Their working hours may vary dramatically: Hours for working are more dependent on the job at hand than on actual shifts. They usually are either on-call or working on a scheduled shift, and they attend to emergencies that may happen at any time. Others perform scheduled surgeries that may last around 16 hours. Cardiac surgeons may work during the day or night, and they work with a staff of other surgeons, medical technicians and nurses. They may be the head cardiac surgeon or report to one in that position. The importance of this position is higher than that of most jobs in any industry.
The tools cardiac surgeons use vary dramatically and include technical equipment such as X-Ray and MRI machines and other devices that read vital signs and cardiovascular function. They also use a variety of specialized hand tools in surgery such as scissors, scalpels and clips. When they work in an office, they usually have computers, pens and papers, telephones, and other typical office supplies as well.
Becoming a cardiac surgeon has extensive educational requirements including obtaining a medical degree, completing a five year residency in general surgery, as well as a two- or three-year fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery. That is where they develop their hands-on expertise as this is not a field where one can practice by trial and error. Finally, they must be certified by their state medical board.
Cardiac surgeons are highly respected due to the difficulty and importance of their job. Heart disease is the number one killer of United States citizens, so there is always a need for cardiac surgeons. They must be willing to dedicate their life to their work moreso than in most any other field.
Cardiac Surgeon Tasks
- Treat complications of ischemic heart disease (for example, coronary artery bypass grafting), correct congenital heart disease, or treat valvular heart disease created by various causes including endocarditis.
- Provide surgical care of coronary artery disease, abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves, congenital anomalies, tumors and diseases of the diaphragm.
- Treat pathologic conditions of the lung, esophagus and chest wall, abnormalities of the great vessels, tumors of the mediastinum, and diseases of the diaphragm and pericardium.
- Provide operative, preoperative and critical care diagnosis, treatment and procedures for patients with pathological conditions of the chest.
- Communicate with families and patients regarding care plans and make referrals to other specialists as per the standard of care.