Medicine and Cardiology

Cardiology is mainly perceived as a study of the functions and disorders of the heart. However, it is really much more than that. Since 13,000 B.C. medicine has been a thriving area of study. Even more specifically than that, the heart has been a thriving area of study. As a result of the heart being the organ that keeps one alive, numerous physicians from the past and the present strived to decipher the heart. Since the heart has yet to be completely figured out, cardiology proves to be a promising career in the future.

In the beginning of time, herbalism was the first known form of medicine. At the time however it was more seen as a type of religion. Many people thought diseases were caused by the gods when they were angry. Therefore when one was sick, they would cut a hole in a person’s skull in order to free the spirits. That is the first known type of surgery. From herbalism evolved Indian Medicine. The Indian’s were partial to Ayurveda.

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Ayurveda is “an ancient Indian system of holistic medicine drawn from Vedic literature that seeks to balance individual imbalances through adjustments in diet, exercise, and sleep and involving herbs, aromas, meditation, and yoga to address health issues.” (Webster Dictionary of English) This Ayurveda is a becoming more popular in medicine today. (History of Medicine)

Egyptian medicine also played a major role in the medical knowledge available today. There were two Egyptian physicians whose discoveries were prevalent to the findings today. These two physicians were Imhotep and Hesyre. Persian medicine also had something to do with the medical technologies today. Persia had the first teaching hospital as well as the first comprehensive book of medicine. This book, The Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina, was used all way until the enlightenment. This book was a compilation of all of the medical knowledge at the time. (History of Medicine)

However, probably two of the most important cultures that helped with the medical knowledge today, are the Chinese and the Ancient Greek medicine. Back, many years ago the Chinese developed a practice called Acupuncture. Acupuncture is “a Chinese medical practice or procedure that treats illness or provides local anesthesia by the insertion of needles at specified sites of the body.” (Webster Dictionary of English) This practice was so important and effective, that the knowledge behind that is still used today in many cultures.

Ancient Greek medicine was also very effective in the knowledge there is today regarding medicine. In 400 B.C. there was a man who contributed so much to the realm of medical knowledge today. This man was Hippocrates. Hippocrates is said to be the father of medicine. It wasn’t until Hippocrates that people realized medicine was science based over religion based. From all of Hippocrates experimenting, he derived a medicine system that is still used as a reference today. (History of Medicine)

Although studies of medicine have been popping up in history since 13,000 B.C., cardiology is surprisingly more of a recent study. In 1628, William Harvey made a discovery that opened the doors of cardiology. Harvey determined the details about blood circulation. Through this it was determined that the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body and is the central organ of the human body. Scientists played around with this theory and remained at a standstill for about a hundred years. (Occupational Outlook Handbook).

In 1706, Raymond de Vieussens described the chambers and vessels of the heart. This led to many new discoveries involving the heart and its functions. It is due to Vieussens’ discoveries that many heart surgeries can occur in the medical field today. Bypass surgeries and minimum.

invasive surgeries could not occur without the prior knowledge of Vieussens’ findings. (History of Medicine There were three discoveries that led to the cardiology as a practice of medicine. In 1733, Stephen Hales first measured blood pressure. With this discovery, the awareness of heart conditions was spread. People now knew if one’s heart was healthy or unhealthy on some levels. This contributed to cardiology as a practice of medicine because people were able to make diagnosis about the heart. In 1816, Rene T.H. Laennec invented the stethoscope.

This also contributed to cardiology as a practice of medicine. In 1903, William Einthoven invented the electrocardiograph. This led to cardiology as a medicine because it helped take down the rhythms of a heart to make sure that one’s heart was just the right speed. (Occupational Outlook Handbook).

In 1912, James Herrick took a huge step in the right direction when he discovered how heart disease occurs. From his research, he came up with the idea of hardening of the arteries and its contributions to affecting the heart. He realized that heart diseases occur when arteries aren’t functioning correctly. Therefore, if arteries were hardening blood flow couldn’t flow normally and the heart would loose blood and oxygen resulting in a diseased heart. (History of Medicine).

In 1938, Robert E. Gross performed the first heart surgery. He performed the surgery on the great vessels near the heart. This was monumental in cardiology history. With this, many other heart surgeries were able to be performed. In 1951, Charles Hufnagel developed a plastic valve to fix an aortic valve. (History of Medicine + Occupational Outlook Handbook) In 1952, F. John Lewis performed the first open heart surgery. This was a huge event in the history of cardiology. Not only did Lewis perform the surgery, but the outcome was successful. Five years later, the pacemaker was invented.

In 1957, Earl Bakken invented the pacemaker. This was a mammoth invention for cardiology. With this invention peoples heart rhythms could be corrected. Then, ten years later in 1967, Christiaan Barnard completed the first whole heart transplant. (History of Medicine) In 1982, Robert Jarvik created the first artificial heart. Since the invention of the artificial heart, there have been no such inventions in cardiology. There has been much research done to promote more inventions in the area cardiology, but there have been no results. (History of Medicine) Today, jobs in cardiology are increasing rapidly. Due to obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, cardiologists are needed more now than ever.

With a promising salary, many people are intrigued. On average, starting cardiologists make $125,000 a year. However, after the second year, many cardiologists’ salaries double so that they are making $250,000 a year. (Colla) That is only one of the perks of being a cardiologist these days. As a result of the baby boomers, many cardiologist positions are open because of the older generations increasing.

Therefore, cardiology is currently a very open field. It is also a non-competitive field. Whoever is willing to put in the time, work, and money will be successful as a cardiologist. Since many people are not willing to put in all the time and effort, many jobs in cardiology are open. However, since 2004, the rate of people entering into cardiology has increased. There is a 19% increase in amount of jobs in cardiology between 2004-2014. Also, 40% of workers today work in hospitals because it is such a promising career. The current size of the medical staffing industry is $14 billion and is expected to increase 15-25 percent a year. Cardiology has proved to be very promising from the research that is known today.

The average life expectancy hit a record high of 77.8 years in 2004, and the death rate bottomed out at a record low 800.8 per 100,000. (Focus on a Career as a Cardiologist + Occupational Outlook Handbook) Although there are few opportunities for advancement in cardiology, it is still an optimistic career. Many cardiologists only make lateral advancements, or change hospitals due to a different salary offer. (Colla) The only non-lateral advancements made by cardiologists include moving into hospital administration, or becoming a professor at a university and teaching cardiology.

Many cardiologists choose not to do this because the salary and reliability of the job are better where they are and therefore a move would be pointless. (Colla) The future of cardiology is bright. Jobs are very available because of the breakthroughs occurring in the field of cardiology. There are many new technological inventions and research that creates endless possibilities for the cardiology field that are bringing about a need for more cardiologists. Another reason more cardiologists are going to be needed is that there will be more people who require the help of cardiologist.

This is due to the fact that the amount of older people is growing because many of the baby boomers are now aging and requiring more healthcare. Because of the many diseases of the mammoth amount of baby boomers, cardiologists today and in the future will be kept very busy. (Colla) On top of the need for more cardiologists, the amount of schooling and training that it takes to become a cardiologist has decreased. Whereas before, the average amount of education and training (normally in the form of residency) took twelve years, which is now being changed to only ten. (Colla) This decrease in the amount of training needed has made the field more appealing to those who were thinking about not being a cardiologist because they wouldn’t be done with their training until they were thirty.

The possibility of actually starting the career sooner has made the idea of being a cardiologist, along with its salary benefits and lifestyle, a more enticing idea. (Colla) Cardiology also seems more engaging to prospective cardiologists because of the great changes it as undergone over the years. As a result of the colossal research done on the heart many changes have been made possible in the field. The field is growing with effective preventive measures, particularly statins. Cardiology is now more of a preventive occupational field as oppose to a procedure field. Sadly, the cardiology changes are not all great. The cost of utilities needed for most cardiology procedures have skyrocketed.

There is a high demand for many expensive tools that are to be used during a procedure. The frequency of cardiovascular diseases has increased; due to incidents such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity along with an aging population made for a larger, sicker patient population. At the same time more people are in need of care, there is a number of diagnostic and treatment breakthroughs that resulted in great program growth. It used to be that most cardiovascular services were confined to tertiary settings.

In the nineties, as technological advances resulted in better diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, smaller hospitals were able to get into the cardiovascular business and compete with full-service programs by offering services that they couldn’t provide in the eighties. Taking services into the community setting improved access to care and made it possible for earlier disease diagnosis. During this same time, many interventional breakthroughs occurred as well and different procedures became standard. These interventions were further supported by advances in devices such as stents, which were experimental previously but now are standard with angioplasty procedures.

Although tertiary centers lost some low acuity business when services were redistributed to community settings, they were able to grow because earlier diagnosis meant more patients in need of procedures that are typically only done at facilities with open-heart surgery programs. Overall, these advancements in the nineties certainly impacted the complexity and patient mix of cardiovascular services. (Healthcare Job Outlook + Focus on a Career as a Cardiologist) Cardiology is a very busy work field. Although the hospital staff is welcoming and friendly, the work environment is always in a rush and cardiologists are always busy on the go.

Many times the environment is so hectic it will create stress on a cardiologist or any physician. Working in an environment where everyone is sick can also be slightly depressing. When a physician spends most of their time around sick people a certain sad mood can occur and create a physician to feel down. However, working in a hospital environment can also be good. Many hospitals work together to ensure that patients are able to recover as best they can. It is also very rewarding to work in a hospital because many people are committed to their work which means they are committed to improving medicine which also means they are committed to changing lives. Being a cardiologist is not like having a nine to five job.

Cardiologists are always on call and may have to come into the hospital at any time of the day. (Focus on a Career as a Cardiologist) This can create some personal issues. Since cardiologists are always on call, they have little free time. They also are rarely able make commitments, because there is always a 50/50 chance of breaking the commitments if they got called into work. This means that their time with family decreases drastically. This can create a huge personal issue with a family and can even tear a family apart. Also, since a cardiologist is not around the house very much and is usually in a rush, stress builds up and can strain a relationship.

Besides the toll on family time and relationships, the stress of the job can also have a large effect on the person as well. Cardiologists will often find themselves thinking about their patients at home as well. This is especially true if they know a patient is in particularly bad shape. This can mean a loss in sleep, as well as an overall loss in quality time away from work. All these things are necessary to have a healthy lifestyle, and a cardiologist seems to lack it. (Healthcare Job Outlook) To be a cardiologist, one must be a very dedicated person who is interested in science and the well being of others.

Cardiologists also must have good communication skills in order to interact with their patients. Not many patients are willing to trust a man or woman who can not fully hold a conversation in fear that they wouldn’t be able to hold the tools in a heart surgery. A cardiologist must also need good communication skills because they are going to need to talk to the relatives of the patient that they are working on because something could go wrong in the surgery or the doctor may need to inform the relatives of what’s going on and if the patient will be okay or not okay. Cardiologists must also be patient when working in surgery.

In order to ensure that the procedures are going correctly, cardiologists must take their time to do everything necessary correctly. There is a lot of schooling in order to succeed as a cardiologist, but it is well worth it in the end. First one must complete four years of undergraduate school. During undergrad, one must meet medical school requirements so that they can enter medical school. After the four years are up, one must apply to medical school and get in. Once in medical school, four years must be completed. The first two years are classroom and lab-based classes.

The final two years is of working with patients under direct supervision. Once graduated from medical school, one must enter into and internship and residency. The internship and residency does not have a specified year quantity. The number of years in an internship is based on specific interest. The average number of years for a physician is three to eight years. However, the average number for a cardiologist is six to eight years. (Colla + Focus on a Career as a Cardiologist) Volunteering at a hospital is also very good before applying to medical school. If medical schools are going to let students in, they want to know that the students are comfortable in the hospital environment.

Therefore, volunteering is a perfect start to a career in healthcare. There are many ways that a student can get involved with volunteering at a hospital. One must go and talk to the volunteer administrative branch at the hospital and explain your situation. Once the situation is explained, a mandatory training will be in order. The training particularly will take around one hour and will generally go over the hospital procedures and emergency codes. Once the procedures are instilled in one’s mind, the prospective volunteer must get their picture taken and put on a name tag. This name tag with photo identification is to be worn at all times around the hospital for security reasons.

Once the photo is taken, the prospective volunteer must get a tuberculosis shot and a varicella titer. The tuberculosis shot is to verify that one does not have tuberculosis and the varicella titer is to verify that one is immune to chicken pox. These two shots must be done because they are highly contagious and the hospital staff does not want the diseases to spread to the patients. Once the results of the tests are in, the prospective volunteer can go back to the volunteer coordinator and find either a particular field to volunteer in or they can choose to volunteer on all areas of the hospital.

In the case of potentially pursuing cardiology, one would most likely want to ask to volunteer in the cardiology department. When volunteering in the cardiology department, one will most likely; replaces linens and towel, refill patient closets, refill nursing closets, refill water for patients, keep patients comfortable, keep family members comfortable, place telephone near patients, place call light button near patients, and remove trash from certain areas. Once one has volunteered for two semesters, if they have good reviews, Volunteer Services can write a letter of recommendation with total volunteer hours on it.

This is good to have for job applications or resumes upon graduation. (Colla) Through researching, I have concluded that cardiology is a very time consuming career. There is really little time to do anything unrelated to work. However, cardiology does have a bright future. Many people are helped each year by cardiologists, and that is a rewarding thing. Cardiologists help about 250 patients a year. (Colla) However, I do not think I would be able to handle such little family time.

I am very keen on family time, and not being around my family a lot would really bother me. Also, I would not like dealing with such traumatic experiences. With working with the heart, one little mistake could kill someone, and that’s not a risk I would be willing to take. Also I would rather get to know the patients I work with. In cardiology, a cardiologist may meet a patient up to three times, where as in a field of oncology a doctor meets with their patient frequently. I would much rather get to know my patients, than to just see them a few times.

Therefore, although it is a promising career, cardiology would not be the field of study for me. Since I am still very interested in the well being of others and in science I would really enjoy being an oncologist. With being an oncologist the family time is increased in comparison to a cardiologist. Oncologists are not really “on call” all the time; their patients have diseases so it is not as traumatic and tragic. Also the schooling, although intense, is less in number. In conclusion, the idea of being a doctor still intrigues me; on the other hand, I would like to be an oncologist rather than a cardiologist. (Colla + Healthcare Job Outlook + Focus on a Career as a Cardiologist)