How to Become a Heart Surgeon

Unlike physicians, surgeons specialize in the treatment of disease or injury through operations. Many surgeons choose to specialize in a specific area. A heart surgeon, also referred to as a cardiovascular surgeon, specializes in the treatment of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. As a heart surgeon you will perform operations on the heart. There are many different types of heart surgery, but the most common are replacement of heart valves and bypass of blocked coronary arteries. There are highly specialized surgeries that include heart transplants. Cardiac surgery is one of the most high-stake specializations in the surgical field, and involves taking the patient's life into your hands. Being a heart surgeon is a very rewarding profession [source: Education-portal]. If you're determined to become a heart surgeon, keep on reading.

  1. Take as many biology and chemistry courses as you can while you're still in high school.
  2. Find out what colleges offer the best pre-medical courses and, which ones will best prepare you to become a heart surgeon.
  3. Earn a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or other health-related major.
  4. Apply to medical school. This will entail doing well on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
  5. Apply for a general surgery residency. You will do this after four years in medical school.
  6. Get certified as a surgeon from the American Board of Medical Specialists. While this is voluntary, this certification indicates that you do not simply fulfill the minimal licensing requirements. Becoming certified by the American Board of Medical Specialists entails passing an exam and undergoing a peer review [source: ABMS].
  7. Apply for a three year residency in cardiac surgery.
  8. Apply for certification in cardiac surgery from the American Board of Medical Specialists.
  9. Join the American College of Cardiology. When you are an accomplished and experienced cardiac surgeon, you may be nominated to be a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) [source: Education-portal].