Steps to becoming a heart surgeon

main surgeon image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from

Heart surgeon, or cardiac surgeon, is a very specialised type of doctor that requires years of study and training. Upon becoming a cardiac specialist, you will be able to find a job in a hospital or even open your own private practice. Cardiac surgeons do more than just spend time in the operating room.

They also see and talk with patients to help them optimise their cardiac health.

Early schooling

Becoming a heart surgeon is a long and difficult process, but at the end you will become a highly specialised doctor that saves lives each day. According to, it can take up to 12 years after graduating college to become a heart surgeon, meaning you will need both patience and dedication before you reach your career goal. Beyond undergraduate college and then four or more years of medical school, schooling and training to be a cardiac surgeon can take seven to eight more years.

Following medical school

According to, potential cardiac surgeons spend the years following medical school first doing a general surgery residency. This usually lasts for five years, where you will learn about non-specialised surgery. Following that residency comes two or three years of a cardiac surgery residency. Some cardiac surgeons who choose to specialise will then require even further training. Specialities include cardiac surgery for children and heart transplants.

Certification and skills

Anyone who becomes a cardiac surgeon must be well-versed not only in biology, pathology and anatomy but also the heart and the surrounding parts of the body. According to, the final stage in becoming a heart surgeon is getting a certificate from the American Board of Medical Specialists in general surgery as well as Cardiothoracic Surgery. Knowledge of the anatomy of other nearby organs like the lungs is also essential.