Cardiovascular Surgeon

Job Description:

A cardiovascular surgeon specializes in performing surgical procedures to treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

As a cardiovascular surgeon, you will be:

  • Assessing patients’ medical histories, conducting thorough examinations, and determining the need for surgical intervention
  • Formulating surgical strategies, selecting appropriate procedures, and determining the best approaches for each patient
  • Performing complex surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), valve repair or replacement, and heart transplantation
  • Conducting surgeries to address conditions like aortic aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and carotid artery issues
  • Employing advanced technologies for minimally invasive surgeries, reducing patient recovery time and complications
  • Collaborating closely with anaesthesiologists, perfusionists, nurses, and other medical professionals during surgeries
  • Responding to urgent cases like heart attacks or aortic dissections that require immediate surgical intervention
  • Explaining surgical procedures, potential risks, and post-operative care to patients and their families
  • Monitoring patients’ conditions before and after surgery, adjusting treatment plans as needed
  • Contributing to medical research, innovations in surgical techniques, and advancements in the field
  • Collaborating with cardiologists, radiologists, and other specialists to ensure comprehensive patient care
  • Sharing expertise with medical students, residents, and fellows in academic settings
  • Upholding ethical standards in patient care, surgical decision-making, and research
  • Staying updated with the latest surgical techniques, technologies, and medical knowledge
  • Assuming leadership roles in surgical departments, contributing to strategic decisions, and guiding surgical teams


You will need:

  • knowledge in pharmacology and anaesthesia
  • knowledge of heart anatomy and cardiovascular diseases
  • knowledge of surgical techniques and medical imaging
  • knowledge in patient assessment, diagnostic tools, and patient care

As well as:

  • effective communication skills
  • the ability to make decisions under pressure
  • the ability to pay attention to detail
  • teamwork skills
  • adaptability skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • leadership skills (for senior roles)
  • empathy
  • ethical awareness
  • stress management
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To pursue a career as a cardiovascular surgeon, focusing on these GCSE subjects is beneficial:

  1. Science (Biology and Chemistry): Understand fundamental human biology and chemical processes relevant to medical studies.
  2. Mathematics: Develop strong mathematical skills needed for medical calculations and data analysis.
  3. Physics: Grasp basic principles related to forces, energy, and their application in medical contexts.
  4. English Language: Enhance communication skills crucial for patient interactions, medical documentation, and research.
  5. Additional Sciences (Optional): Subjects like Physics or additional Biology can provide broader scientific insights.

These subjects lay a solid foundation for embarking on a medical education path leading to cardiovascular surgery.

To become a cardiovascular surgeon, you typically need to fulfill these qualifications and requirements:

Bachelor’s Degree

Complete a bachelor’s degree in a pre-medical field, usually taking around 4 years.

Medical Degree (M.D. or D.O.)

Graduate from medical school with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

Surgical Residency

Undergo a 5-year general surgery residency program to gain foundational surgical skills.

Cardiovascular Surgery Fellowship

Complete a specialized 2-3 year fellowship focusing on cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

Medical Licensure

Obtain a medical license to practice as a physician in your country or region.

Board Certification (Optional)

Achieve board certification in cardiovascular surgery by passing relevant exams.

Clinical Experience

Accumulate experience through rotations, assisting in surgeries, and interacting with patients.

Working Hours and Environment:

Cardiovascular surgeons work long and irregular hours, primarily in hospital settings, conducting surgeries, consultations, administrative tasks, and on-call duties, often facing high-pressure situations and requiring collaboration with medical teams.

Career Path & Progression:

A typical cardiovascular surgeon’s career involves education, residency, fellowship, entry-level practice, skill refinement, advanced roles, potential research/teaching, leadership, continuous learning, late-career transition, and potential retirement or advisory roles.