Cardiologists are specialist doctors who have undertaken Advanced Training in Cardiology (Adult Medicine), which is a 3-year RACP program leading to eligibility for RACP Fellowship and Specialist registration with the Medical Board of Australia (AHPRA). Advanced training prepares doctors for practice as independent consultants in their field. At this level, they are also responsible for providing clinical leadership, training other doctors and staff, and participating in research and professional development. Cardiologists diagnose and treat heart disease, genetic defects, complications from heart attacks and pulmonary, artery and vein disorders. They try to prevent further disease by helping patients return to active and healthy lives. They undertake a variety of examinations and tests, such as physical examinations or echocardiograms, which help them determine the patient's condition and create an effective treatment or management plan. These may involve non-invasive therapies, such as implementing lifestyle changes, monitoring blood pressure, or taking medications; but may also involve complex and more invasive interventional cardiology procedures, such as stenting, pacemaker insertion, and catheter ablation. Cardiologists work closely with internal medicine physicians and vascular and cardiothoracic surgeons, and often coordinate care within multidisciplinary teams. They work in acute and outpatient settings in hospitals, as well as private clinics.
Registrars (Cardiology) are registered medical doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can undertake registrar level training positions - broadening and refining their scope of practice, experience, skills and competency. Cardiology Registrars work in acute and outpatient settings in hospitals and private clinics, including in CCU (Coronary Care Units) and CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Units). They work alongside the cardiologist and senior medical staff, helping to diagnose and treat heart disease, and complications from heart attacks and pulmonary, artery and vein disorders. They undertake cardiac tests and examinations, including echocardiography and cardiac electrophysiology services, and create and follow effective treatment/management plans. These may involve non-invasive therapies, such as implementing lifestyle changes, monitoring blood pressure, medication management, and more complex interventional cardiology procedures, such as stenting, pacemaker insertion, and catheter ablation. In acute care settings, including Emergency and ICU, they manage heart failure and cardiac transplantation, and are responsible for making major decisions regarding patient care. They work with a variety of patients including geriatric and paediatric patients. Registrars can work towards specialist qualification/registration in Cardiology by undertaking RACP training in Adult Internal Medicine and Cardiology (6 years total). Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff.
Nurses who specialise in this field work in acute care settings, including Emergency, ICU, CCU, and CICU, as well as in elective surgery and private surgeries. They provide nursing care to patients undergoing cardiac examinations, angiography, interventional cardiology procedures and surgery, and during recovery and rehabilitation. They support the Cardiologist in the operating theatre and catheter lab, provide peri-operative nursing care, including infection control and scrub and scout duties. They monitor and care for patients after surgery and fill out important documentation. They may be responsible for managing junior nurses. To work in this field, nurses need current registration with AHPRA. Some employers request relevant experience and post-graduate qualifications in Peri-Operative Nursing.
Other occupations in cardiology include Cardiac Technicians/Technologist, Physiologists, and Cardiac Scientists. These roles assist with the day-to-day organisation of the Cardiology unit or practice. They may be responsible for scheduling patient appointments, investigations and follow-up, re-stocking supplies and maintaining equipment. Importantly, they provide technical support for cardiac investigations, including set up and interpretation of ECGs, exercise stress tests, blood pressure and ambulatory monitoring, pacemaker testing and assistance with other electrophysiology studies. To pursue a career in this field, employers generally request a tertiary qualification in a health science area such as Exercise Physiology/ Biomedicine/ Nursing/ Medical Science/ or Cardiac Technology.