Cardiac surgeons are physicians who operate on the heart and the surrounding vessels to treat and diagnose conditions of the cardiovascular system. They coordinate with a team of other professionals to perform heart surgeries from fairly routine procedures like bypass surgery to complex tasks like heart transplant surgery. Training, education and experience contribute greatly to cardiac surgeon salary.
Cardiac surgeon salary
Information about physician salaries is obtained from various consulting firms and professional groups since the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track their salaries by specialty. For instance, American Medical Group Association is an association that tracks salaries of physician. The group reported a median yearly income of $533,084 for a typical cardiac surgeon in the US. This marketing pricing was prepared by Certified Compensation Professionals who analyzed survey data which was collected from various human resource departments at employers of different sizes from different industries and states. The bottom 10th percentile has a median salary of $255,450 while the top-end median salary is $587,146. Cardiac surgeon who specializes in heart transplant surgery has a median wage of $432,756 per year, with a top-end salary of $224,162 and a bottom 10th percentile median salary of $640,992. The association reported that cardiac surgeons can earn substantial salaries even at the beginning of their careers. Specialty recruiting firm profiles that works with new physicians reported a median first year salaries of $360,000 per year.
Pay Scale in different parts of the US
Many factors contribute to the annual incomes of cardiac surgeons. The factors include the type of employment, geographic location, education and experience. Different states pay these surgeons differently depending on the standards of living of the state and demand for heart surgeries. States with the highest reported incomes are Pennsylvania and Illinois.
Job Description of Cardiac Surgeons
Cardiac surgeons perform transplants, procedures and operations on the heart. They insert balloon catheters, repair defective heart valves, install stents and perform bypass procedures. They supervise surgical assistants who are usually surgical interns and nurses. Below is a comprehensive overview of their main duties;
Heart surgeries- Cardiac surgeons perform surgeries to treat various heart conditions like vessel insufficiency or valve stenosis, ischemic disease, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and congenital defects. The diseases are treated by replacing heart valves, widening clogged arteries, implanting defibrillators, repairing aortic aneurysms and performing double triple quadruple and heart bypasses.
Pediatric surgeries-congenital heart defects are common birth defects in the United States and they are a leading cause of infant deaths. Cardiac surgeons may perform procedures to correct these defects. These procedures include tricuspid valve repair, pulmonary venous return correction, hypo plastic left-heart repair, ventricular and atrial septal defect and transposition of great vessels. Although most of these procedure are performed in early childhood or infancy, an occasional cardiac surgery can be performed in utero.
Work environment- Cardiac surgeries involve long, grueling hours. They can last four to six hours or longer. A cardiac surgeon is supposed to be on-call frequently since heart emergencies can happen at unexpected times.
How to become a cardiac surgeon
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Do you want to become a cardiac surgeon? Then the first step should be completing a bachelor’s degree program from a certified university or college. This requires three to four years and it is advisable to consider pre-med major like chemistry or biology. Once you obtain a bachelor’s degree, you will be required to apply to a certified medical school and take MCAT, Medical College Admission Test.
The medical school typically lasts for four years. You will take essential courses like pathology, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology and anatomy and gain valuable laboratory experience during the first two years. The final two years gives you a chance to work in real-life situations with practicing doctors, interact with patients, and also gain experience in different areas such as internal medicine, psychiatry, family care and pediatrics.
Once you are done with the medical school, you will enter a residency program in general surgery that lasts for five years. The program will allow you to do rotations in several areas and give you the necessary practical and educational experience in simple surgeries like hernia repair and appendix removal and complex procedures involving aorta and the stomach.
You can then apply for residency program in cardiothoracic surgery after completing residency in general surgery. The program lasts two years during which you will be an assistant in the operating room scrubbing on surgeries and managing patients’ care. This programs aims at giving experience and knowledge in the treatment and diagnosis of patients with cardiovascular problems.
You must be certified in order to practice as a cardiac surgeon in the United States. The certification board requires one to have fulfilled all educational requirements and pass USMLE, United States Medical Licensing Examination. If you are eligible to practice, you will apply and take an exam administered by ABTS, American Board of Thoracic Surgery that results in board certification as a cardiac surgeon.
Cardiac surgeon salary in Canada, Australia and UK
Although the salaries of cardiac surgeons are still large sums of money in other countries, they are not as exuberant as in the United States. A Canadian cardiac surgeon earns an average of C$372,200 every year, while in Australia, the average annual income for the same surgeon is about A$401,000. The average annual salary of a cardiac surgeon in the UK is £130,000. The figures may however vary depending on where the surgeon is located. For instance, the salary is about £107,900 in Eastern England and £141,700 in London. Cardiac surgeons are some of the highest paid doctors in the United Kingdom, although their income doesn’t truly equate to the income they would be making in the United States.
Outlook and verdict on cardiac surgeon salary
Cardiac surgeons are among the highest paid doctors in the medical field. Those working in highest paying areas with many years of experience are likely to take home more than $500,000 every year. Future employment opportunities are excellent for medical professionals like cardiac surgeons. The BLS projected a job growth rate of 22% by 2018 which is relatively higher than all the other occupations. This is because of heart procedure will be increased as the overall American population age and the need to replace the retiring surgeons.