Cardiologist

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Cardiac Technologist
Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Perfusionist

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Helping or advisingSkill Level 5 Skill Level 6

 FutureGrowthModerate
Cardiologists are physicians certified to diagnose, treat and manage disorders of the cardiovascular or circulatory system - heart, arteries and veins.

Cardiologists have a high level of responsibility and carry out tasks including diagnosing heart abnormalities, using medical imaging, assisting cardiac surgeons, determining treatment plans and attending follow-up appointments with patients.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • able to motivate and manage yourself
  • analytical judgement
  • making complex decisions in difficult situations
  • confidence in referring to others when something is outside your expertise
  • an interest in the cardiovascular system and effective therapy
  • high energy levels
  • working in and having the potential to lead a team
  • able to communicate well with colleagues and patients

Listening to heart
Cardiologist listening to heart
(Source: PBMC Health)

Duties and Tasks

  • Examines patients to determine the nature and extent of problems after referral from general medical practitioners and other medical specialists, and undertakes laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures.
  • Analyses test results and other medical information to make diagnoses.
  • Prescribes and administers drugs, as well as remedial and therapeutic treatment and procedures.
  • Records medical information and data.
  • Reports specified contagious and notifiable diseases to government health and immigration authorities.
  • May admit or refer patients to hospitals.
  • May consult other medical specialists.

Working conditions

Cardiology can be a high pressured job, involving long hours and weekend work - although private consultants have more control over their hours. Cardiologists usually work in small private offices or clinics, and are often assisted by a small staff of nurses and administrative personnel.

Frequent travel between their office and their appointed hospital is required, as is being 'on call' in case of an emergency.


Tools and technologies

Cardiologists need to become familiar with different procedures including stress testing, cardiac catheterisation, radiology studies, ECG and a variety of other techniques to diagnose heart conditions.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a cardiologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in cardiology. To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

To specialise in cardiology, doctors can apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship. To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

To work as a cardiologist in Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.


Cardiac Technologist
Community and Health

 

Practical or MechanicalClerical or OrganisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Cardiac technologists provide technical services for the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

As part of the cardiology team, cardiac technologists operate a range of specialist equipment, which provides data that cardiologists and other medical practitioners use for patient care.

Alternative names: Cardiac Scientist, Cardiac Technician and Clinical Measurement Technician

Knowledge, skills and attributes     

  • careful and analytical approach to work
  • sympathetic, supportive and professional approach to patients
  • ability to follow safety guidelines
  • good communication skills
  • commitment to ongoing professional development
  • able to work as part of a team      

Cardiac Technologist reading
Cardiac Technologist monitoring heart beats
(Source: PBMC Health)

Duties and Tasks

Cardiac technologists may perform the following tasks:

  • electrocardiography (ECG) - recording the electrical activity of the heart, from which the heart rate is measured and its pattern and rhythm are interpreted
  • ambulatory monitoring - fitting a portable ECG monitor to record the ECG over a 24-hour period, and replaying and analysing the tape on a computerised system
  • exercise ECG stress testing - assessing a patient's cardiac response to exercise using a treadmill or stationary bicycle and ECG recording
  • pacemaker implant testing - testing and, if necessary, reprogramming implanted cardiac pacemakers with computerised equipment
  • cardiac catheterisation - monitoring and recording ECG and blood pressure data during interventional procedures
  • electrophysiology studies - using computerised systems to record ECG data from within the heart in order to diagnose and treat abnormal heart rhythms
  • echocardiography - operating ultrasound equipment to scan the heart from the chest wall, obtaining and measuring images of the heart to assess blood flow and valve abnormalities
  • cardiac research - studying the effects of cardiovascular drugs and diseases using many of the above techniques

Working conditions

Cardiac technologists may be required to be on call.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a cardiac technologist you usually have to complete a degree at university with a major in biophysics, health science, nursing, physiology or exercise physiology. Once you are employed, you will receive some on-the-job training and may be required to undertake further study in cardiac technology.

To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics are normally required.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study.

Cardiac technologists performing echocardiograms need to be accredited with the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry (ASAR). Student membership is also available for students participating in an ASAR-accredited medical ultrasound programme of study.

 

 

Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Practical or MechanicalAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

 

A cardiothoracic surgeon is a specialist who surgically treats diseases affecting the organs in the chest, predominantly the heart, lungs and oesophagus. Cardiothoracic surgeons work closely with other medical professionals to treat life-threatening diseases such as heart failure, lung cancer, endocarditis, congenital heart defects, and pulmonary embolisms. They also perform heart and lung transplants and coronary bypass surgeries. Future Growth Strong

Cardiothoracic surgeons see the immediate and often life-changing results of their work. Since the end of the Second World War cardiothoracic surgery has seen accelerated growth, along with rapidly evolving technological changes. This medical specialty is relatively young and is still evolving.

A diagnosis of heart disease begins with a patient's primary care physician, who will then refer them to a cardiologist. If their cardiologist decides that they need surgery, he or she will refer them to a cardiothoracic surgeon, who becomes a new member of their heart-health team.

A cardiothoracic surgeon may treat: coronary artery disease or blockages of the arteries in the heart, blockages in the heart valve(s), leaking heart valve(s), abnormal enlargement or aneurysms of the large arteries in the chest, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.

Monitoring patients in intensive care is an important part of a cardiothoracic surgeon's work. Although cardiothoracic surgery is very safe, complications can sometimes occur, including heart-beat irregularity (arrhythmias), stroke, post-operative bleeding, fluid around the lungs, infection, or thrombosis.

Alternative names: Cardiothoracic Surgeons are also known as: Cardiac Surgeon Cardiovascular Surgeon General Thoracic Surgeon Congenital Heart Surgeon Heart Surgeon

Specialisations: Within the specialty of cardiothoracic surgery, there are specific specialties - adult cardiac surgery, children's cardiac surgery, general thoracic surgery (disorders of the lungs and esophagus), congential cardiac surgery, and heart and lung transplant surgery.

Knowledge, skills and attributes     

  • Doctorate in Medicine
  • Extensive and stable work history
    License to practice
  • The ability to perform under pressure
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Patience.      

Cardiothoracic surgeons have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

Cardiologist
Cardiothoracic Surgeon examining heart image
(Source: Career Explorer)

Duties and Tasks

  • Examines patients to determine the necessity of operations, estimates and explains risks to patients, and selects the best operational procedures.
  • Reviews reports on patients' general physical condition, reactions to medications and medical histories.
  • Consults with anaesthetists regarding the correct anaesthesia for patients.
  • Performs surgical operations.
  • Examines instruments, equipment, and surgical set-up to ensure that antiseptic and aseptic methods have been followed.
  • Instructs other medical, nursing and associated staff regarding the preparation of patients and instrument and equipment requirements.
  • Prescribes post-operative care, and observes and investigates patients' progress.
  • Maintains records of operations performed.
  • May specialise in particular types of operations.

Working conditions

Cardiothoracic surgeons work in public and private hospitals as surgical specialists. They also may supervise and teach medical students. They may be required to work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They may be required to be on-call in case of an emergency. Cardiothoracic surgeons are also involved in the treatment and management of many different conditions within their specialty, which may involve their presence at outpatient clinics, team meetings, and ward rounds.

Cardiothoracic surgeons may have to operate for long periods at a time. They operate in completely sterile theatre rooms and must wear protective clothing.

Cardiothoracic surgeons that are just starting out can expect to work long and irregular hours. They are often on call, and will need to work whenever an emergency comes up and a patient needs surgery immediately. Surgeons that work with large teams may trade off on call shifts with others on their team or can switch between working day and night shifts.

Cardiothoracic surgeons may perform two operations one day and four or five the next, depending on their patients' needs. This is a demanding career, and knowing how to manage stress is extremely important.

Tools and technologies

Cardiothoracic surgeons use a range of specialised surgical instruments when operating including scalpels, clamps, retractors, forceps and cardiopulmonary bypass machines.

Outside of the operating theatre, cardiothoracic surgeons use technologies such as angiographs, X-rays, echocardiograms, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scans to assist in planning appropriate courses of action and to follow up after surgery.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a cardiothoracic surgeon, you must first become a qualified doctor and then specialise in cardiothoracic surgery. To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

To then specialise in cardiothoracic surgery, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship. To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

To work as a cardiothoracic surgeon in Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia

 

Perfusionist
Community and Health

Practical or MechanicalAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

A perfusionist is a highly trained member of the cardiothoracic surgical team who is an expert in using the heart-lung machine (also called the cardiopulmonary bypass machine) during cardiac surgery. The heart-lung bypass machine maintains safe and stable patient circulation while the heart is stopped for surgical repair. Perfusionists may operate such equipment during any medical situation where it is necessary to support or temporarily substitute for the patient’s heart and lung function. This machine is necessary during a surgery where a cardiopulmonary bypass is needed in order to manage the patient's physiological and metabolic needs. This enables the cardiothoracic surgeon to operate on a still, unbeating heart. Perfusionists work alongside cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, physician assistants, surgical technologists, and nurses. Future Growth Strong

Perfusion describes the naturally occurring process of blood and oxygen delivery to the organs and tissues of the body.

Perfusionists utilise a heart-lung machine to facilitate blood circulation while the heart is temporarily stopped during heart surgery; and to facilitate blood oxygenation while the patient’s lungs are temporarily stopped. Cardiopulmonary bypass ensures perfusion of the patient’s organs and tissues. During heart surgery, the heart and lungs are bypassed and blood is pumped outside the body through plastic tubes and through an oxygenator – then back into the patient to deliver blood and oxygen to the patient’s organs and tissues. Most heart operations require the services of a perfusionist to operate the heart-lung bypass machine. Some perfusionists specifically train to work in paediatrics.

Perfusionists are very important members of the cardiovascular surgical team because they are responsible for running the heart-lung (cardiopulmonary bypass) machine and are responsible for the management of circulatory and respiratory functions of the patient. The heart-lung machine diverts blood away from the heart and lungs. It also adds oxygen to the blood, then returns the blood back to the body. This is all done without the blood having to go through the heart. The perfusionist and heart-lung machine allow the cardiothoracic surgeon to focus on the actual surgical procedure and less on the immediate needs of the patient.

Heart-Lung Machine
Heart-Lung Machine
(Source: Career Explorer)

 

Alternative names: Perfusionists are also known as: Clinical Perfusionist Cardiovascular Perfusionist Perfusion Technologist

Knowledge, skills and attributes      

They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.     

Duties and Tasks

During surgery, perfusionists regulate levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, and use the heart-lung machine to maintain blood flow to the body’s tissues. Perfusionists are also responsible for measuring blood cell count and monitoring circulation. They may at times administer medicines through the cardiopulmonary bypass circuit under the direction of the anesthesiologist and surgeon. Some other responsibilities include blood collection and processing, implementing and managing the intra-aortic balloon pump, adult and infant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), as well as monitoring of anticoagulation, electrolyte, acid-base balance and blood-gas composition.

In some hospitals, perfusionists place and manage patients on ventricular assist devices as bridge to recovery or heart transplantation and support patients receiving lung or liver transplants, and can also be involved in obtaining cardiothoracic donor organs for transplantation.

Adult surgical procedures that purfusionists are involved in may include:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass
  • Aortic Valve Replacements
  • Mitral Valve Repair/Mitral Valve Replacement
  • Tricuspid Valve Repair
  • Aortic Root Replacements
  • Atrial Myxomas
  • Dissections/Aneurysms/Trauma Of The Aorta (Ascending, Arch & Descending)
  • Renal Cell Carcinoma/Obstructive Vena Cava
  • Veno-Venous Bypass (eg During Liver Transplants)
  • Cardiac/Lung Transplants
  • Implants Of Ventricular Assist Device
  • ECMO

Working conditions

A perfusionist is allocated to work with a Cardiac Surgeon when patients undergo cardiac surgery. Tertiary hospitals undertaking cardiac surgery employ a team of perfusionists.

Perfusionists work in operating theatres in public and private hospitals. Their main work is performed within a cardiac operating theatre, but they also work in Intensive Care Units, General, Orthopaedic, Vascular and Neurosurgical Operating theatres, Cardiac Catheter Laboratories and Research Laboratories.

Perfusionists typically work in operating rooms in hospitals and surgical centres during heart and lung surgery, but they also work in ICUs. Perfusionists are responsible for monitoring patients both before and after a procedure. Their hours can vary from week to week due to fluctuations in schedules and surgical and medical emergencies.

Some perfusionists choose to work for medical product manufacturing companies, developing the perfusion equipment or working in the marketing and sales divisions of those businesses.

Tools and technologies

Perfusionists operate the heart-lung machine (also called the cardiopulmonary bypass machine)

Education and training/entrance requirements

Entry requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Science or equivalent followed by a structured course in Clinical Perfusion.  Clinical Perfusion (SCiCP) course consists of 12 standardised modules (including a research project) which serve to ensure that perfusion education and training is delivered in a standard fashion throughout the accredited training hospitals in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It is completed over a two or three year period via distance education. Entry to the course is restricted to non-certified perfusionists or trainee perfusionists employed by accredited hospitals or private perfusion groups in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

 

 

 

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Material sourced from
Jobs & Skills WA [Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Cardiologist];
CareersOnline [Cardiac Technologist;]
Career Explorer [Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Perfusionist; ]
Health Careers UK [Cardiology;]
Australian and New Zealand College of Perfusionists [What is a Perfusionist;]

JobOutlook [Cardiologist;
Cardiothoracic Surgeon; ]


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physio

Optometrist

Special Care Worker

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Occupational Therapist

Natural Therapist

Prosthetist

SES Officer

Art Therapist

Dermatologist

Psychiatrist

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